How To Find A Good Dentist
Based on our reputation at Lowitz, Meier & Layer, our future patients and patients are constantly asking for advice on how to choose the best dentist. What criteria should be considered for a person and their family?
Thousands of people every day are searching online and need to know what things are most important and they also should get a crash course on certain terms in our field.
Understanding your needs and the needs of your entire family first will help you make an intelligent and informed decision.
Advice on choosing a dentist from a good dentist!
Choosing the right dentist for you is a completely different experience for someone else. Your dentist and their office staff should you make you feel comfortable. The selection of the right dentist for you is understandably a subjective one.
The proximity of the dental office relative to your home is important but don’t overlook the atmosphere of the office, the tone of the staff and of course the doctor or doctors themselves.
Now let’s examine something we refer to as “Standard Of Care.”
Standard Of Care- Explained
Generally speaking, dentists are required to follow certain standards, which can differ slightly by state. State dental boards contain laws that establish what a dentist can or can’t do in their practice.
As long as dentists practice within the bounds of their “standards of care” you can rest assured that you have found a good dentist to consider.
On the flip side of that, dentists who fail to abide by the standards of care for their state can be viewed as a “bad” dentist from your standpoint. Let’s examine some of the moral and ethical issues that come into play.
Things To Look For In Choosing A Dentist Near You
Assuming you have checked off items such as proximity to your home, the personality of the staff, the cleanliness of the office, etc. lets go deeper.
A smart next step could be to schedule a quick, one time check up or evaluation. During your appointment- make note of these items.
1. Do they have dental hygienists on staff?
First of all let’s be clear, it is perfectly acceptable for a dentist to do their own cleaning. Having said that, dental hygienists are a must! If you find an established dentist who has been practicing for any period of time and they have no dental hygienists, you must ask why.
So make sure to find out if the dentist you are considering has their own hygienist.
2. How long is a standard dental cleaning?
Cleaning appointments for adults should take at least 15 minutes. If your cleaning appointment is 10 minutes or so, the odds are that you have been rushed! Keep that tip in mind. It takes time to measure your gums, scale away plaque and polish all of your teeth properly.
On a new patient visit expect to be in the office for 45-90 minutes. Of course, the length of time depends on if you’re getting an exam, cleaning, X-rays, etc. Some visits will be shorter or longer (your first appointment will tend to be the longest.)
Overall you should never get the feeling you are being rushed.
3. What are the infection control procedures?
This is one that should go without saying but it’s imperative that your dentist and staff are practicing appropriate infection control.
We’re talking about things like wearing gloves, masks, cross-contamination and systematic sterilization of all dental instruments.
Here’s a way to check out the sterilization practices of the office…ask for a complete tour of the sterilization procedures used in the office. If your dental office hesitates or turns you down, that could be a red flag.
4. How often does the office take dental x-rays?
The standard of care with regard to x-rays is to take a full mouth series or pano, of your mouth every 3-5 years. Your dentist and hygienist use those images to evaluate your overall oral health.
The most common times to take these x-rays are when you’re a teen who is getting an orthodontic evaluation, having your wisdom teeth checked out, or if you’re an adult who is visiting a new dentist for the first time.
Most healthy people need “bitewing” X-rays about once every year. Bitewing x-rays are used to check the areas between your teeth where cavities can form. People more prone to decay might need bitewing x-rays every six months or so.
Tips On Your Search For “The Best Cincinnati Dentists Near Me”
We’ve discussed a few basics for establishing what makes a god dentist, now let’s drill down into some search tips to help you out:
Use a “dentist near me” map
Search online for dentists in your neighborhood or zip code. Today, Google and other search engines make this easy. One tip is to make sure you are physically in the “IP” location while you are searching.
Check online reviews
Having a lot of 5 Star Reviews is a fantastic sign of a good dental practice. Every practice will get the occasional average or poor review but generally speaking look for an average of 4.5-5.0 stars. And the more the merrier.
Ask your family and friends
Odds are that if your neighbors, friends and children’s friends parents like a dentist, chances are very good you will like them also. Ask around to see which dentist’s name is mentioned in your peer groups.
Partner With Your Dentist
Your dentist should be your partner in your oral health. You will always be your best advocate and your dentist should respect that and take the time to understand you.
Dentists should share their findings with you, giving you options when it comes to the treatments appropriate for your unique smile. For example, if you have a large cavity, you might need a crown, but your dentist can also warn you that there’s a possibility that the cavity is so close to your nerve that you’ll need a root canal. Or if you need a filling, you could get the option of white or silver.
Good dentists provide options. Bad dentists dictate procedures.
Meet the dentist
Do not hesitate to schedule a one to one meeting with your new dentists and bring any questions or concerns you have for discussion. This is a great way to get a feel for your upcoming decision.
You’ll be able to quickly judge for yourself if there could be a personality conflict, and you should walk out knowing if this is the place you want to be, or if you should be looking.
See The Right Type Of Dentist
As you may be aware, different dentists have different specialities. Some specialize in certain types of treatment and spend 3-4 more years in college to be experts in their field. Others are general dentists who offer basic care for the entire family. Still some general dentists have training in specialized services so that they don’t have to refer patients to another clinic.
If you need or desire a specific service, make sure to ask the dentist’s office if it’s something they offer. If not, you’ll need to call around to find someone else.
7 Types Of Dentists
General family dentist
Dentists originally start out as general dentists. They have 4 years of education in family dentistry, providing lifelong oral health care and restorative services. These are the types of dentists who make up your typical dentist’s office.
Most people like having a family dentist because they can pick an office and stay there. Your family grows up with them. If there’s an emergency, you already have an ongoing relationship with the dentist and their office. It’s more convenient to schedule everyone’s checkups in the same place, at the same time.
These are dental specialists who provide orthodontic therapy. Typically, their offices will only provide treatments related to braces or aligners and they usually see people of all ages.
Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons
Oral surgeons are specialists offer surgery related to hard or soft tissue therapy in the oral anatomy around your teeth. They provide wisdom tooth extractions and offer sedation/anesthesia so that you can “sleep” through the appointment.
Some of the other dental surgery procedures include dental implant placements, cleft palate repair, jaw reconstruction and sinus lifts. These specialists tend to bridge the gap (no pun intended) between a dentist and a traditional medical surgeon, specializing in oral, head, and neck anatomy.
A periodontist steps in when there is aggressive gum disease that isn’t responding to traditional dental treatments.
Periodontists also provide dental implant placement, bone grafting, gingivectomies/gummy smile treatment, and gum disease treatments.
Patients with gum disease will usually alternate visits back and forth between their general dentist and their periodontist until such time the disease is under control.
Patients who need full mouth reconstruction, oral rehabilitation, or even expertly designed restorations like ceramic crowns and veneers, or dentures, require the services of a prosthodontist. They specialize in restorative treatments that can enhance your oral function and appearance.
Prosthodontists can also help you design custom dentures and fixed implant prosthetics. They usually work closely with your general dentist or implant provider. But prosthodontic offices also provide a wide range of restorations that you won’t necessarily see in other specialty practices.
Think of endodontists as the “root canal experts.” If your dentist wants to help you save a tooth instead of extract it, but you need more than just a basic root canal, they’ll send you to an endodontist.
In addition, a trained endodontist will treat cracked teeth, abscessed teeth, fractures, and root canals in teeth with curved or twisted roots. They also provide re-treatments. Endodontists utilize special equipment like microscopes to see down into the nerve canals.
Other dental specialists
Pediatric dentists would be the most common example of another type of dental expert that can be seen. These specialists see young children, special needs kids, and teens before they head off to college.
Some of the other specialties include oral radiologists and oral pathologists. You might see one of them if you need cancer treatment or have a unique condition that requires a special medical diagnosis.
Key Takeaways When Looking For Your New Cincinnati Dentist
Hopefully this guide helped educate you on some important terms, and started you thinking about how to choose the individual dentist that is best for you.
Remember, just because you’re googling “the best dentist near me” or “best dentist offices” keep in mind that the word “best” is relative. What’s best for one is not best for another!
Make sure your dental office follows the standard of care when it comes to recommending treatments, infection control, and the amount of attention and care they give to you and your family.
Don’t feel rushed and don’t hesitate to ask your friends and neighbors which dentist they use. We sincerely hope this objective report gives you the tools you need to make your best decision.
Lowitz, Meier & Layer