How to Choose a Dentist? – 6 Things to Look for

Taking care of your teeth requires more than just brushing and flossing. Regular dental check-ups play a crucial role in diagnosing early lesions. Dental professionals act as a constant guide to help you look after your oral health. It is, therefore, essential to find a dentist who is always looking out for the best interest of you and your family.

Oral health is a vital part of our overall health. It is essential to find a dental office that makes you feel comfortable. An excellent dental office with a welcoming staff builds up the trust and encourages the patient to turn up for regular dental appointments. Choosing the best dentist for yourself requires some knowledge about the dentist, the staff, location of the dental office and its reviews.


In addition to this, several other factors come into consideration while selecting the best dentist for you and your family. In this article, we will look at six major factors that you should consider before selecting a dental office. We will also look upon the ways to find a dentist in your locality.

Who is a dentist?

A dentist is a health care professional who specializes in the field of dentistry. A dentist deals with the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of conditions and diseases of the oral cavity.

A supporting team of dental assistants, dental hygienists, dental technicians, and dental therapists work along with the dentist to provide the best oral health care services to their patients. (1)

In general, a licensed dentist is capable of performing the following procedures –

How to choose the best dentist for yourself?

A dentist is an integral part of everyone’s life. Dental professionals associate in taking care of your oral health for many years. Therefore, finding a dentist should always be considered as a long term proposition.

Typically, there are six important criteria that you should look upon while choosing the best dentist for yourself –

Location of the dental office

A dental office which is close to home and work is convenient to travel to. Shorter distance saves your time and makes it easy to schedule appointments. (2)

While selecting the closest location, look at the office timings as well. Consider dental offices that open on the days and at times that fit right in your work schedule.

Professional qualifications of the doctor

Dentists of today’s age, use advanced clinical and administrative technology. Dentistry is evolving continuously; therefore, dentists and their staff update their skills regularly to meet the expectations of the patients and the industry.

You can obtain the information about a dentist’s qualification from –

  • A local dental society
  • An insurance carrier
  • Many organizations of dental specialists list their professional memberships and qualifications

State licensure

Many state dental board websites allow you to verify if a dentist is licensed to practice or not. This website also displays information about any disciplinary actions taken against the dentist.

Such information is crucial to make decisions from an ethical point of view. It also helps you to focus on dentists that legally provide quality dental care. (3)

Cost of treatments

One of the main things to look for while choosing a dentist is –

  • Acceptance of dental insurance.
  • Availability of multiple payment options. For example, payment by credit card, personal check or any payment plans.
  • Whether or not the dentist allows referral to specialists as per your insurance plan.

Cost of treatments varies by practice. Even though you might have dental insurance, a part of the cost is to be paid by you. (4)

Having an estimate of what the dentist might charge for a filling, crown, root canal and extractions helps to decide which dental office is providing the best financial plan.

Personal comfort level

One of the essential things to consider before making a decision is your comfort level with the dentist and the staff. Ask yourself the following questions to assess your experience at the dental office –

  • Are you able to converse with the dentist without any hesitation?
  • Are you able to clearly explain your symptoms?
  • Do you feel that the dentist completely understands your concerns?
  • Are you comfortable in expressing your fear and anxiety in front of the dentist?
  • Do you understand the procedures and instructions given by the dentist?

If your answer is yes to most or all of the questions listed above, you may proceed to the next factor for selection.

Emergency care services

Find out what emergency care services does the dentist provide. Usually, during a dental emergency, you should be able to contact your dentist at any time by phone, answering service or a pager.

The dentist should not refer you to a hospital emergency room. Find out what the dentist will do if you come across a dental emergency during office hours, at night or on the weekend.

How to find a dentist?

While searching for a dental care provider, you can –

  • Ask your family, friends or colleagues for recommendations
  • Ask your family doctor or physician. A local pharmacist can also suggest a couple of dental offices.
  • If you are moving to a new place, you can ask your current dentist to recommend or refer you to a dentist they might know in that locality.
  • You can contact your local state dental society and find out the best dentists near you.
  • Individual insurance providers can list out options for good dental offices. (5)

Take away message

Oral health has a significant impact on overall health. The ‘Healthy People 2020′ program started by the federal government has linked poor oral health to chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Therefore, getting the best dental care service is essential to living a healthy life. Choosing the best dentist for you and your family is a work that requires knowledge and attention to details.


A good dental home provides you comfort and satisfaction. It encourages you to follow up with the dentist and motivates you to take care of your oral health.

Many factors come into consideration while selecting the best dental office. Some may include, the location, dentist’s qualifications, the environment of the office, technology used and patient reviews.

Make sure you look at all the essential factors in selecting the best dentist and make an informed decision.


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