Going to the dentist is a dreaded task
Because of old memories, going to the dentist is a dreaded task for many people. Overcoming fear and mistrust means finding the right doctor. The first step requires a little soul-searching because dentistry is a product as well as a service. And, because dentistry is a highly personalized service, it is impossible to write hard and fast rules on “How to Find a Dentist.” This process will take time and effort, but it will be worth it.
Dedicated dentists will take sincere interest in their patients. And a good dentist and dental team will respectfully treat the whole person, as well as the mouth. Your dental team should ask questions about your medical history and previous dental experience and eagerly answer your questions and concerns. Education and preventive dental care should be their No. 1 priority.
First things first
Before you start searching for Dr. Right, decide how healthy you want your mouth to be.
Ask yourself two defining questions:
- Am I serious about keeping my teeth for the rest of my life?
- Do I only want to go to the dentist when I have a problem or a dental emergency?
If you answered yes to the second question, almost any dentist will do. On the other hand, a resounding yes to the first question says you are looking for a capable, empathetic, prevention-minded dentist who will care for your dental health and respect your individual needs. Now that you’ve defined your dental priorities, you are ready for the next step-the search.
If you’re new to the area, you can look in the Yellow Pages, call a toll-free referral service, read newspaper and magazine ads, or search the Internet, although a trusted friend is usually the best source of information. Do your research and follow your instincts.
You can judge a lot about a dental office from your first phone call, so use it as your screening tool. Yes, your intuition goes a long way in detecting whether you will be comfortable in their care. If the person answering the phone is cheerful, helpful, patient, and answers all your questions, it’s a sign that you may want to take it one step further and make an appointment for an exam.
Choices and Communication
If you are not satisfied during the first part of your search-the phone call to the dental office-move on. If you are not satisfied with the second step-your initial dental visit and exam-move on. If you are not happy with the third step-the dentistry itself-it’s time to express your feelings in person to the doctor. Take charge. Let your fingers do the research, your mouth do the talking, and by all means, vote with your feet.
So how do you know you got a good job? Only another, well-qualified dentist could judge the work, but from a common sense layman’s approach, it is not too hard to figure out. Completed work must feel like a tooth, function like a tooth, clean like a tooth and of course, look like a tooth. Remember, it is your health, your teeth, your time and your money.
Mac Lee is a dentist in practice in Edna, the author of “Nothing Personal, Doc, But I Hate Dentists!” and a founder of the group “Dentists Who Care.”