Best Questions to Ask When Choosing a New Dentist

How to Choose a Dentist

Selecting a dentist in Plymouth, MN that will meet your needs and expectations is an important decision that merits careful consideration.

So you have just moved to a new part of town and trying to familiarize yourself with your new location. Choosing new dentist may not be your first thought after unpacking boxes, but it is important. Where do you get your groceries? Where do you fill up for gas? Where is the local health club? These are some of the questions you may be asking yourself. It’s important as you become adjusted to new surroundings that you know where to go to take care of your daily activities. It only makes sense that you will also be looking to create professional relationships to help with other areas of your life like a good mechanic for your car, schools for the children or doctors for your healthcare.

One decision that should pop up on your list is choosing a dentist. While it makes sense and is easy enough to put on a list, how does one go about choosing a dentist? Here are some thoughts and key questions that you should ask when choosing who will provide your dental services. Primarily, there is a good reason to not wait too long before starting your search.

One decision that should pop up on your list is choosing a dentist. While it makes sense and is easy enough to put on a list, how does one go about choosing a dentist? Here are some thoughts and key questions that you should ask when choosing your new dentist. Primarily, there is a good reason to not wait too long before starting your search.

7 QUESTIONS PEOPLE ASK BEFORE CHOOSING A DENTIST

1) Why is it Important Find a Local Dentist Sooner Vs Later?

I say that because most of the time finding a dentist isn’t an immediate need. Since we need to eat every day it makes sense that we would get going on finding a great grocery store right away. Most of us go to our dentist once every 6 months.

Well just imagine this. You have lived in your new neighborhood 2 months, 3 months or go ahead and pick some other time frame. You suddenly wake up in the middle of the evening with a bad toothache. Now you have an emergency. Who do you call? It can be difficult to find a dentist on short notice and the last thing you want is to be calling around, trying to find help during an emergent situation.

Another reason to not wait on your search is that if you wait to seek out a dentist until you have an emergency you will be at higher risk of choosing one that may not be the best fit for you. Thinking about that grocery store again, a general rule of thumb is that you should not go shopping when you are hungry. It is then that you are more prone to making poor choices and loading up your grocery cart with a lot of things you do not need. The same can happen when you are choosing a dentist. When you are in pain is never a great time to make an important decision about who to trust your care to. If you wait until you have an emergency you are liable to take whoever you can and not necessarily the best one for you. Having an established relationship can take the stress off of an already uncomfortable situation.

Poor choices can have a lasting impact so do yourself a favor and start looking for that new dentist early and avoid trying to pick when you are in an emergent situation.

Now that I have hopefully driven it home to look for a new dentist when you are not in an emergent situation, let’s look at the next questions that many ask.

2) Where do I start my Search for a Dentist?

Choosing new dentist tips:

Well, I believe the best place to start is by asking your friends or co-workers where they go and are they happy with their dentist? People will gladly share their experiences good or bad so take note. If you hear a certain dentist or office mentioned a couple of times in a negative light, cross them off your list. Conversely, if you hear a particular office or dentist talked about in a very positive manner it may be worthwhile to jot that name down and give them a look.

3) What Should I Look for on a Dentist Website?

If you were able to get a couple of references for a new dentist maybe the next step is to take a look on the internet. Do they have an appealing and informational website? While a website itself is not necessarily a determinate on the quality of the dentist it should evoke a sense of quality in it. A website should also provide solutions and answers. You want your dentist to take pride in all their efforts, and a nice website is usually a reflection of the quality they value in all their work.

4) Can I Trust Online Reviews?

As long as you are on the internet are you able to read any reviews on the dentist? What is the general tone of the reviews? Hopefully favorable. You never expect anyone to have all 5-star reviews but hopefully, the overall score is 4.5 stars or above. Also, don’t hesitate to read some of the reviews. If you come across some negative reviews did the office respond? A thoughtful response is a good reflection of an office that cares enough to try to make things right when a patient didn’t have the experience that was hoped for. I have found that it speaks volumes about any business on how they respond to a customer, or patient in this case, who is not completely satisfied.

If you read through the website you can also pick up on many things. Are there photos of cases he or she completed? Take a look as it shows the artistry a dentist can do to make your treatment look beautiful and natural. Does the dentist do a variety of procedures? If they do a variety there is less likely that you will need to be referred to a specialist when you need treatment. Is there more than one dentist working at the location? More than one dentist is a benefit since your dentist will be gone from time to time at meetings, continuing education or vacation.

If they work with another dentist this dentist can see you in the event of an emergency when your dentist is out of town. Also, there will probably be a bio on the dentist speaking about his or her education, professional affiliations, and personal interests. If you see a lot of affiliations or the doctor has earned recognition for their passion for continuing education it is a signal that they desire to keep up with the latest dental trends.

Dentistry has changed so much over the years it is important that your dentist has the desire to never stop learning so you can enjoy the benefits of the latest that dentistry has to offer. Now is also your time to look at the hours the dental office is open. Do they work for you? Do they offer oral cancer screening?

Location should be a major factor for you when looking at a new dentist. Having a dental office with a convenient location is important. It makes it much more likely that you will make regular appointments if it is easy to get to your dental office. Regular cleanings and checkups have proven to be amazingly successful in the prevention of dental health issues. And again, in the event of that unfortunate emergency, you will be able to easily get to your dental office.

5. Do you have payment plans available?

This is another great question to ask your prospective dental office. Depending on your conditions, achieving dental health can become a significant investment. If you run into the need of significant dental care it is nice to know if your dental office offers payment plans. Every dental office has their own polices on payment expectations from their patients. We let you know a clear roadmap of costs; for example, you can read here what a typical dental implant costs. Another question to ask may be, how modern is their dental implant care?

Some of the questions you might ask:

  • Do you have payment plans available?
  • If so, how long can they run and what are the interest rates?
  • Are the payment plan run by the office or is there 3rd party financing? This is important because most offices will do short-term financing (3 months or less) in office but anything greater is typically run through a 3rd party. Be careful on these because they will have an interest free component, typically 6-12 months, but if you go outside the terms the interest you are charged can be very significant. Usually it will be 22% -28%.
  • Are you able to make payment plans that extend longer than 12 months? Again, depending on the extent of your needs this may be good to know. Typically, anything greater than 12 months will be done through a 3rd party. The interest rate on those will vary but the dental office should be able to guide you on exploring this financing option.

6. What areas of dental surgery do you specialize in?

Knowing what kinds of procedures your future dental office does can be very helpful. Dentists have different skill levels and comfort levels on doing different procedures. For instance, you can ask:

All these questions will tell you that if you need treatment done outside of the more common fillings and crowns will it be able to be done by your new dentist or will you be sent to a specialist to have it done. Typically it is a benefit to you that your new doctor is comfortable in a variety of procedures. It is much more comfortable for you to go to one office to have treatment done by providers that you are familiar with rather than providers and an office that are not familiar to you.

7. Do you take x-rays when necessary?

X-Rays are an important diagnostic tool for dentists but since they expose you to radiation it is fair to find the doctor’s philosophy on x-rays. The answer you would like to hear is that “We take x-rays based on the needs of the individual patient.” Hopefully, you do not hear, “We take x-rays one time per year.” (Whether you need them or not!) We take dental safety seriously!

Time to Place a Call to a New Dentist

So far you have spoken to friends and co-workers, done online research and narrowed your search down. I believe the next step is to set an appointment to go in see the dental office, meet some of the people who work there and the dentist. There are several things you should pay attention to.

What to look for when scheduling an appointment with a new dentist:

  • How were you treated on the phone? Was the person welcoming and helpful?
  • How did the office look when you came in? Did it appear neat, clean and up-to-date? This is very important as the cleanliness may very well translate to the cleanliness you will find in the operatory. Also, an office that is not updated may tell you that the dentist is not interested in staying updated on the latest services, procedures or techniques.
  • Were you warmly greeted by the staff? Were they so on top of it that they may actually know your name when you walk in? Do they appear to care?

Initial Meeting when Selecting a Dentist

You should now be able to meet your dentist and again, make some mental notes.

  • Were you warmly greeted by the doctor?
  • Were you left waiting or were you seen on time? Everything doesn’t always run on time but hopefully you were seen within 10 minutes of your appointed time.
  • Did the dentist try to get to know you a little or did the talk go straight to your teeth? Social skills or bedside manner is important. Not taking the time to get to know a little something about you speaks about whether your dentist will look at you as person or a mouth with teeth.
  • Did the dentist seem rushed? Dental offices are run with different philosophies. If the dentist focuses on the personal relationships along with the clinical exam you should not get the sense that the dentist is rushed. They should be able to focus on you as a person. Not only that you should sense that they WANT to focus on you as a person and genuinely want to get to know you past your teeth.

If the dentist is rushed it may mean that he or she is focused on seeing as many patients as possible on a given day. This leaves little time for anything beyond a doctor/patient relationship. That may be fine for some people but me… I want someone who cares. Dentistry goes beyond the mouth. There are so many interconnected facets between dental health and overall health. For example, when crooked teeth are fixed, your gum health improves, too. If your dentist has some sort of an idea about you as a person it can help guide the best recommendation for your dental health.

Knowing When to Trust Your Judgement

This point is probably the most important for me and it is completely subjective.

What does your “gut instinct” tell you after your first visit. Are you feeling good when you leave, like you were well taken care of and in a quality environment? Or, is your gut instinct telling you something was off? Perhaps the office didn’t feel quite right or you were not quite sure about the dentist. Obviously with the first “positive” feeling means that you have probably found your new dentist and dental office. The second negative feeling is a little tricky and again you should listen to your gut. If the feeling wasn’t too bad you may want to give the office and dentist one more chance. However, if the feeling is bad enough you will probably be better off leaving it at one visit to this particular office and start your search again. Usually, your gut instinct is correct. Follow it!

Finding a good and reputable dentist may take time.

Choosing healthcare providers is a very personal and important decision. Hopefully, this article has been helpful and given you some things to consider when you need to find a new dentist. There are many, many wonderful dentists and dental offices out there. The key is finding the one that matches your values and what you are looking for. Just take a little time and I’m certain you will find an office and dentist that you will see for many years. Happy researching!

Call Smile Design Dentistry for a dentist you can trust in the Plymouth, MN area. We’d love to win your confidence. 763-537-1238


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45 Comments. Leave new

  • I like that you mention how you should find solutions and answers on the dentist’s website, such as learning about the quality of their work. Their website should also be able to provide you with the phone number and address. This could help you make sure they’re located near your home or office so that you can get to them quickly whenever you need their services.

    Reply
  • Earnest Watkins
    February 23, 2018 4:04 pm

    My wife and I are moving soon, so we’ll be needing to find a good dentist near where we live. I liked your suggestion to ask friends or co-workers for suggestions on who to visit. We’ll be sure to do this and ask some of our new neighbors too to help us find someone near our new home.

    Reply
  • Ashley Maxwell
    February 27, 2018 1:42 am

    I appreciate your tip to choose a dentist that is located in your area. Thanks for saying that they should also have positive online reviews in general. My husband and I are looking into cosmetic dentists that we like to whiten our teeth.

    Reply
  • I like where you suggest finding out what payment plans the dentist has, and how long they can run. My husband and I just recently moved to a new area and are in need of a dentist. Hopefully, we can find a local one that we both love.

    Reply
  • Hannah Neilson
    March 27, 2018 1:43 am

    Thanks for the tip about checking a dentist’s website before choosing them. Finding out things like ratings and reviews online would also be helpful. I’m trying to find a new dentist, so I’ll have to consider checking their website first.

    Reply
  • Hannah Neilson
    March 27, 2018 9:59 pm

    I appreciate your advice about considering looking for online reviews when choosing a dentist. It would be good to consider this because it would show that they are qualified. My husband and I are looking for a dentist, so we’ll have to consider their reviews.

    Reply
  • Thanks for your tip to choose a dentist that has positive online reviews. I also like how you said that they specialize in the services that you need. My husband needs a root canal, so we are looking for reputable dentists that specialize in that.

    Reply
  • Olivia Nelson
    April 6, 2018 12:44 am

    You make a good point when you say that you want to consider if a dentist has an appealing and informative website. It would be smart to consider what they have online because this would be a good place to find out information about them. My husband and I are looking for a dentist, so we’ll have to consider their website first.

    Reply
  • My Mom does have a smiling face. It just so happened that I cannot imitate that because of lack of confidence in my teeth that need to be treated. So, to remedy that, I am now wearing braces and it may take some time but I know, I can beat her smiles, hahaha!

    Reply
  • I’m just settling down to a new city, I moved in because of my new job and it’s almost time for my monthly dental checkup so I need to find a good dentist whom I could trust with my oral health. Regarding your second question, it reminded me to check for the list of accredited dentists and dental clinics from my HMO. I’ll also ask for more recommendations from my colleagues to ensure that the dentist I’m going to visit is well-experienced and reputable.

    Reply
  • I like how you said that the dentist you are looking into should have good reviews. I also like how you said that they should have an online website. My parents are looking for a new and reputable dentist to get their oral surgery performed by.

    Reply
  • I agree that you want to find a dentist by searching online. It would be good to consider this because it would show that they are qualified. My husband and I are looking for a dentist, so we’ll have to check online.

    Reply
  • Thanks for the tip about considering checking out the internet when choosing a dentist. It would be good to consider this because the internet could show a lot of reviews and references for a dentist. I’m trying to find a new dentist for my family, so I’ll have to find one that has good reviews.

    Reply
  • Rosie Beckett
    May 9, 2018 5:27 pm

    I am looking for a cosmetic dentist and I appreciate that you say to make sure they have payment plans available. I will definitely ask about the interest rate options as well as third-party financing options. Also, you make a great point that you need to make sure the dentist specializes in the area you are looking for. I will make sure that the dentist specializes in cosmetic dentistry and has many years of experiences in this.

    Reply
  • My favorite part of this article is that knowing the “gut instinct” part. Yes, I agree with your point here. We should feel if we’re comfortable with the dentist at the first visit. Who wants to leave a dental clinic in the middle of tooth retraction anyway? Hahaha.

    Reply
  • Hazel Owens
    May 19, 2018 1:40 am

    That’s good to know that the dentist’s website will reflect the pride they have in their work and that it should provide solutions to answers you have. I just moved to a different state so I’m trying to find a new dentist here. This will help me as I’m looking.

    Reply
  • Derek Dewitt
    May 21, 2018 2:39 pm

    My wife and I just moved to a new area, so thanks for the tips on choosing a new dentist. I like your point about asking if the doctor can do things like root canals and other operations. I want to ensure we can visit the same location for all our dental needs, so I’ll be sure to ask about this.

    Reply
  • Thanks for the tip about not waiting to find a dentist. Finding someone before you actually need them would help you make an informed decision as well. My husband and I moved recently, so we’ll have to find a dentist before we even need one.

    Reply
  • Jeff Madison
    May 25, 2018 9:33 pm

    Thanks for the tip about considering if a dentist has good online reviews. Finding reliable reviews would help you know that you are hiring a professional. My mom needs dentures now that she is a little older, so she’ll have to find a well-reviewed dental service to help her with this.

    Reply
  • James Lee Tucker
    May 29, 2018 6:42 am

    I like your idea of asking your friends or co-workers about their experiences with their dentist to find a good one. My friend lost her upper front teeth after a bike accident. She’s looking for a dentist to get dentures. I’m helping her by asking around our common friends to see if they know who’s good in making dentures.

    Reply
  • I agree that you want to go online and check out dental reviews and qualifications. Finding someone who is experienced and qualified would also be nice. My husband wants to get Invisalign, so he’ll have to find a dentist with good reviews to help out.

    Reply
  • My wife and I just moved to a new area, so we are looking for a dentist to start visiting soon. I like your point about scheduling an appointment to meet with the dentist and check out the location. I’ll be sure to do this so I can see if the office is neat, clean, and up-to-date.

    Reply
  • Oh my, my husband has just met an accident and lost 3 of his front teeth. It’s so sad to know that our family dentist moved to a new place of assignment. We need to look for a new dentist who’s like our old dentist! Need help with this, any suggestion?

    Reply
  • Dentist Coquitlam
    June 28, 2018 7:06 am

    Its really an interesting and informative post.

    Reply
  • Derek Dewitt
    July 9, 2018 2:53 pm

    My wife and I just moved to a new area, so we are looking for a dentist in town. I like your point about checking different dental websites to determine the quality of the location. I’ll be sure to get online and see if the website can answer all my questions about the location or not.

    Reply
  • It’s so refreshing to find a dentist that cares! My tooth was hurting badly and I went in as an Emergency. The front office was super sweet and understanding and was able to see Dr. within 30 mins. I was literally in tears walking in and walked out feeling a million times better. Tooth all fixed up. Thank you!!

    Reply
  • I like that you say when looking for a dentist you should find out what they specialize in. This is very important to me because my daughter’s first tooth recently grew in, so I want to find a dentist who has training and experience in pediatric dentistry. You also make a great point that you should have a consultation with potential dentists because this way I can see for myself if they are kind and comfortable working with young children.

    Reply
  • I really like that you suggest asking about the payment plans the dentist has. My family just moved to a new town and we are needing to find a dentist. I’ll have to do some research and find the best dentist in the area.

    Reply
  • I am an incredibly busy woman. I have a lot of commitments, 5 kids, and a job. I don’t have time for a dentist who isn’t prompt. I like how this article mentioned taking note if you weren’t seen within 10 minutes of your appointed time. I think that is so crucial and important to notice when you are a busy person like me.

    Reply
  • These are some pretty good questions especially the ones about which surgeries the dentist can perform. After all, if you’re looking for a specific type of dental service then you’ll want to make sure that the dentist can carry it out. For example, if you need a root canal then the dentist you choose should actually know how to do root canals.

    Reply
  • You make a good point that bedside manner is important since that indicates how the dentist views you as a person. My son has a molar that started to hurt, so I’m trying to find a family dentist we can go to to get it looked at. I’ll have to call around to set up some consultations, that way I can determine which dentist will take care of my son in the best way.

    Reply
  • My husband has been experiencing a lot of teeth pain and he thinks that he may be dealing with the start of periodontal disease, so he needs to find a quality dentist. You make a great point that you should find out what the dentist specializes in because it would be great if they have a lot of experience helping patients who deal with periodontal disease. Also, I will tell my husband to look for a dentist who offers flexible payment plans so that he can make sure we can afford it.

    Reply
  • Thank you for suggesting that you should try and find a cosmetic dentist that offers payment plans. My husband and I are wanting to find a cosmetic dentist to help get my teeth looking perfect. I’ll have to do some research and find the best dentist in my area.

    Reply
  • I really like that you point out that people are normally more than happy to share their dental experiences with you. I’ll have to keep this in mind as I search for the best cosmetic dentist in my area to help get my teeth straight and white. I’ll have to do some research and find the best cosmetic dentist in my area.

    Reply
  • My husband and I just moved our family to a new area and need to find a dentist as soon as possible. Thank you for pointing out that when we are searching for a dentist we should make sure and pay attention to how we are treated on the phone. I’ll have to keep this in mind as I’m searching for the best dentist in our area.

    Reply
  • You make a good point to check if a dentist has payment plans, how long they will go for, and what their interest rates are. My son has a molar that hurts really bad when he drinks something cold, so I’m looking for a dentist we can go to to see what’s wrong with it. I’ll have to call around and ask about payment plans that way if I can’t afford it upfront I’ll know that I can afford the payments.

    Reply
  • Gillian Babcock
    February 21, 2019 12:09 am

    My sister moved into a new city and she’s looking for a new dentist to provide her with oral care. It was suggested here that it will be best to choose a local dentist because they can help her in emergent situations. Moreover, it’s recommended to go to a trusted dentist for quality oral care.

    Reply
  • I really appreciate these tips on choosing a dentist. I’m needing to find a new dentist. Hopefully, I can do some research and find the best dentist in my area.

    Reply
  • Thank you for these tips on choosing a dentist. My husband is really needing to see a dentist. I’ll have to look into finding the best dentist in the area.

    Reply
  • Hazel Owens
    July 8, 2019 2:42 pm

    I like how you mentioned that when looking for a dentist, you should ask your co-workers and friends for recommendations. My husband an I would like to find a dentist near our home in case of an emergency. I will look for a dentist who is near us, and I feel comfortable with.

    Reply
  • Gillian Babcock
    August 9, 2019 5:01 am

    My sister is having a hard time sleeping lately because of toothache and my dad advised her to see a dentist. It was explained here that it will be best to look for a dentist before a dental emergency. Moreover, it’s recommended to go to trusted experts when in need of dental care services.

    Reply
  • Daphne Gilpin
    August 23, 2019 5:08 pm

    Thanks for explaining that dental health can be a significant investment, which is why it’s important to ask about payment plans and options. I’ve been thinking about finding a cosmetic dentist to fix a chipped tooth so I can start feeling confident in my smile again. I’m glad I read your article because now I know what questions to ask when talking to different cosmetic dentist services I’m considering.

    Reply
  • It’s interesting to know that it is recommended to choose a dentist for your family before an emergency happens. My brother is new in town, and he is looking for advice to find a dentist for his family. I will let him know about the importance of hiring a dentist soon to make sure he hires the one that suits his needs.

    Reply
  • I like when you talked about choosing a dentist immediately because we should visit the dentist on a regular basis to protect our teeth. My wife and I are thinking about looking for a new dentist because the dentist we used to go to retired last month. Along with searching the web, we’ll take your advice as well and ask our friends and family if they know of a good dentist to go to.

    Reply

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