Choosing a dentist is an important task – especially if you have specific issues or you have children.  Not only do you want to find someone you are comfortable with, but you want to find someone who offers the services you need, takes your insurance, and someone that can make you as comfortable as possible, especially if you have dental fears!  There are a few things you need to consider when choosing a dentist, but remember if you make an appointment and don’t feel comfortable any longer, or you find that somehow the bedside manner has changed, you can find another dentist using these criteria points.

Qualifications for Dentists

Anyone in the medical field will have specific requirements and qualifications.  For dentists it’s a DDS or DMD degree.  These mean that the doctor in question has had at least 2 years of schooling for pre-dental college, and an additional 4 years of dental school.  A dentist must also complete and pass national and state exams in order to become licensed in your state.  If you find a dentist that does not have these requirements, look elsewhere.  Even a new dentist that hasn’t been at it for very long, WILL have to have these to practice in the USA.

Specialties and Services

Not all dentists are created equal.  You have general dentistry, family dentistry, oral dentistry and so much more.  If you are looking for something specific, find a dentist that has requirements for those specialties and actually offers them in his practice.  A specialist dentist will need two+ years in advanced training and education.  If you aren’t sure what kind of a specialty doctor you will need, it’s a good idea to visit a general dentist and see what he can tell you.  Then and only then will you understand what kind of dentist you need to look for i.e.; dental care for seniors, dental care for kids, dental care for restorative treatments, etc.

Questions to Ask

When you are visiting a brand new dental office and you are talking to the dentist him or herself, don’t be afraid to ask questions.  That’s what they are there for after all!  Be sure to ask pre-determined questions such as how long they have had their practice or been studying in the dentistry field, how they got into dentistry, what types of experience they have in your specific type of treatment or issue, etc.  Also, make sure to ask them about the type of insurance they cover, when or if you can ever request emergency appointments, how to go about that, etc.  The more questions you ask, the better you will be able to gauge weather they are the right doctor for you or not.

Fears of Dentists

Dentists are much different than they were 10, 15, even 5 years ago.  Technology and techniques they use have now made it possible for even the biggest scaredy-cat to visit the dentist and not feel scared to death!  One of the local dentists in my area actually has what he calls a dental spa.  They have an array of “additional” things to make your stay more welcoming like comfy dental chairs to sit in, the ability to listen to Pandora radio on their iPod, or even watch TV while having your teeth done.  They also offer another service called Sedation Dentistry.  This is regular dentistry but with a kick – it features benefits that will make your experience that much calmer.  They offer things like Nitrous Oxide, Pre-medication for Anxiety Patients and even I.V. Sedation by Anesthesia Specialist.  If you have fear of a dentist see if the one you are with now offers this type of treatment, if not and you need something uncommon done on your teeth i.e.; teenagers that have digestive issues, oftentimes lose teeth or have cavities because of “soft teeth” and may need dentures.  This is already a scary experience as is, but then add in the inability to have good bedside manner from a dentist or not have the option to be put out, and you might ignore the situation altogether and not even bother going!  Dental Spas like the one above exist for a reason.  While some people don’t care about the noises, smells or sights of what you find in a dentist’s office, some people get really freaked out and because of this, there was obviously a need for something like a Sedation Dentistry service!