Dentistry is an investment in the future of your smile. And, like any investment, you'll want to do a little research before making a final decision. These guidelines can help you choose the practitioner who's right for you.

  1. Check the doctor's credentials.
    Do you need general dental care, or do you have needs that would be better met by a dental specialist? Consider what you want and need from your dentist. No matter who you choose, make sure the dentist is licensed through the state dental board.
  2. Investigate the doctor's training.
    The best dentists didn't just go to dental school; they also completed extensive post-graduate training programs. In addition, the best dentists regularly attend continuing education classes to stay up-to-date on new procedures and materials.
  3. Start with a consultation.
    Going in for a consultation is a great way to learn more about a dentist and dental practice. Consultations are generally inexpensive, and are sometimes even offered for free. Talk to the dentist before you commit to anything. Remember, it's your job to make an educated decision.
  4. Communication is key.
    It's essential that you be able to talk to your dentist - and that your dentist will listen to you! There's a lot of dialogue that needs to go into an individual long-term treatment plan. If you feel bullied, pressured, or rushed, then that's probably not the right dentist for you.
  5. Look at before and after photos.
    Take a look at the dentist's portfolio before you make up your mind. Pay specific attention to cases that are similar to yours. Make sure that the photos are of actual work done by the dentist, not just stock photos.
  6. Don't pay too much - or too little.
    Some dentists charge more by marketing themselves as high-end luxury dentists offering cosmetic smile makeovers. Other \ndentists try to make up for poor materials and shoddy work by offering low prices. Beware the extremes.
  7. An honest dentist sets realistic expectations.
    Watch out for doctors who promise more than they can deliver. You want a dentist who will tell you what can and cannot be done for your smile. You need to know how long the process will take, what you'll have to do, and any complications that could occur.
  8. Nothing compares to experience.
    Much like other people, dentists get better at things the more they do them. Ideally, your dentist will have lots of experience with dentistry in general and with cases like yours specifically.
  9. Check out the facilities.
    Take a look around. What sort of equipment does the practice use? What is their sterilization process? Is it a comfortable atmosphere? Are the employees happy and helpful? Do they take the time to answer your questions?
  10. Look for a practice that specializes in general and/or family dentistry.
    Unless you have special dental care needs, a general or family dentist will be able to monitor your overall oral health and hygiene. Should you later require the services of a dental specialist, your dentist will be able to refer you to a qualified specialist.
  11. Ask about references and recommendations.
    Word of mouth can provide valuable insights. Learn more about your potential new dentist by asking around. Do other medical and dental professionals refer patients to this dentist? Do past patients recommend this dentist?
  12. Discuss financing options.
    Major dental work can cost thousands of dollars, and insurance rarely covers all of it. You need to make sure you and your dentist have a workable plan to pay for your dental work.
  13. Technology is cool, but it's not the only thing.
    A dentist with high-tech modern equipment is more likely to be up-to-date on modern techniques. At the same time, however, don't let yourself be dazzled by a dentist's fancy tools; what really matters is if the dentist knows how to use them properly.
  14. Your dentist should care about your total health.
    Though you're seeking dental treatment, you want a dentist who will pay attention to your overall health. Oral health problems can be an indicator of underlying disease. In addition, if you have any medical conditions or are taking medications, your dentist will need to know that prior to treatment.
  15. Doon't prioritize form over function.
    The desire for cosmetic dentistry is what brings a lot of people into the dentist's office. Yes, your dental work should look great, but it's even more important that it function properly. Uncomfortable dental work is not an acceptable option. In addition, you want materials that will last for \nyears to come.