1. Learn about your dentist’s experience and training, as well as clinical expertise. If you anticipate that a lot of work will need to be done in a specific area, see what the dentist can offer you, how familiar they are with the procedure and how often they have done it. Make sure beforehand that they can take care of most problems you may have, and not refer everything to another party.
  2. Check prices. If they seem outrageously low, there may be a reason. If they seem too high, think again: you don’t want to put off necessary treatment because you can’t afford it. See, also, what your dental insurance will cover, and ask whether your chosen dentist accepts your insurance plan. If not, you may have to start your search again from scratch!
  3. Learn how long your dentist has had the practice, and whether he or she has a satisfied customer list. If he or she has a long waiting list, or you have to wait weeks for an appointment, that may be indicative that you’re onto a good thing. Then again, it may just add frustration when you need to book an emergency appointment yourself.
  4. If you plan on having extensive cosmetic dentistry carried out, ask if you can talk to previous patients — and/or see before and after photos. Quiz your dentist about the procedures you are interested in, and ask how many times he or she has performed them in the past. Make sure they are up-to-date with the latest advances, and that they stay on top of the game.
  5. Decide what’s important to you, and see how your dentist can fit your needs. Do you prefer someone who can see you on weekends? Do you want a dentist who can treat your dental phobias with sedation before any major treatment? Would you prefer your dentist to use more modern tools, such as lasers, instead of scalpels? Do they have a TV on the ceiling, or provide iPods to use on-site?
  6. Ask your potential dentist about their referral process if you need specialized treatment. You may spent weeks searching for the right dentist, only to find they refer you to someone you don’t rate. Chances are, however, that if they are a good dentist they’ll refer you to someone on the same level.
  7. Decide if you genuinely like the guy — or gal — and if you feel comfortable with the dental staff and the general surroundings. Many people dread the dentist because they are scared of drills, discomfort and pain. Don’t make things worse by picking a dentist you can’t stand to be in the same room with for more than three minutes! And if you don’t feel you can honestly trust them, it’s time to go somewhere else.

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