When it comes to choosing your dentist, it can be hard to narrow it down to one person who will take care of your teeth in the long term.
You might be on the hunt because you’ve relocated, you’ve struggled to find a fantastic dentist in the past, or you just don’t have a dentist at all yet. Finding a dentist should be carefully considered as a long-term process, as seeing the same practitioner for years to come means consistent and personalised treatment, which we refer to as “continuity of care”. This quality of service is difficult to achieve when changing dentists frequently.
So, what should you look for when you’re deciding on a dentist? There are a number of factors that will determine which is the best dentist for you and your family, so we’ve come up with some of our best tips for finding a good dental practice near you.
Choosing the best dentist:
- Word of mouth
- Online presence
- Practice features
- Dentist qualifications
- Payment options and fees
- Evaluating the dental experience
1. Word of mouth
When starting the search for your new dentist, there are a number of sources where you can discover some of your options:
- If you’re moving cities or towns, ask your current dentist if they can refer you to someone in your new your local area – often they’ll be in contact with others in their field throughout the country
- Talk to your family, friends and colleagues to find out who their dentist is and why they chose them
- Ask your GP if they have any recommendations
Word of mouth is a highly promising way to find a dentist you will like and trust, as it is often based on first-hand experience and an honest reflection of what to expect, both positive and negative, of any product or service.
2. Online presence
Now you’ve got a few options to research, it’s time to start narrowing them down. Checking out a dental clinic’s presence online is a good way to get an overall idea of their reputation in the community and their dedication to providing up-to-date information about their team and services.
Their online presence includes:
A dentist’s website should have sufficient information on their team’s qualifications, their treatments and amenities, practice history and their patient care philosophy outlining their values and mission. It’s also an added bonus if the dentist has an online booking system on their site, making it easy to make an appointment at any time of the day at your convenience, without having to give the clinic a call.
A regularly updated, highly functional and easy-to-use website is a good indication that the dental clinic is willing to invest in informing their patients and providing a fantastic experience before you even walk through the door!
Social media is the perfect platform for taking a closer look at what a dental practice has to offer, especially when it comes to cosmetic dental treatments such as veneers, teeth whitening or Invisalign, which are easily shared in the form of before and after photos. You can often get a behind-the-scenes look at the dental team and life in the practice, so you can better determine the nature of the staff and if you think you’ll be a good fit in the long run.
Patients can also leave reviews on a dentist’s Facebook page, which can be the perfect way to view first hand feedback on a real person’s experience at the practice, and to find out if a particular dentist is renowned for being an expert at the particular treatment you’re interested in.
In addition to their social media reviews, you can also check out feedback on external review sites such as Google My Business, Yelp, or Yellow Pages. This will give you an average star rating for an idea of how the dental practice performs, and also many patients will write specific feedback which will give you more details on the pros and cons of a clinic.
Keep in mind that nearly every business will have the occasional less-than-perfect review, as every patient’s needs and expectations will be different, but as long as the majority are very positive, you’re on the right track.
You can also find dentists by searching your national dental association’s website, which in Australia it is the Australian Dental Association (ADA).
3. Practice features
Once you’ve determined the quality of a few dental practices online, you’ll need to find out if the practice itself is suitable for your needs. You can gather this information from their website or by calling the team, to find out the answers to questions such as:
- Is their clinic located close to your home or work?
- Are their operating hours suitable for your schedule? Some practices may offer after hours or weekend appointments, while others may not.
- Do they offer emergency dental services?
- What is their policy for missed or rescheduled appointments?
- If needed, do they have wheelchair access? Are they easily accessible on the ground floor or do they have an elevator?
- Is there convenient parking available? Or, is it accessible by public transport?
- Do you need someone on the team to be fluent in your primary language, if translation services are required?
- If you have private health insurance, is your health fund accepted or are they a preferred provider for this fund?
- Are they accredited? Although it’s not mandatory in Australia, accreditation demonstrates that the practice has gone through great lengths to meet a set of internationally-recognised healthcare standards. Each of Oasis Dental Studio’s Gold Coast dental clinics are QIP accredited practices.
4. Dentist qualifications
When it comes to doing more research on a particular dental practitioner, the clinic’s website should tell you about their qualifications and any post-graduate training they’ve completed. A dentist who continually attends educational seminars, training and events is committed to staying up to date with the latest industry knowledge and techniques, and is a good sign you’re in the safest, most qualified hands.
They may also have their own Instagram accounts, separate from that of the practice to showcase their work and give you a look into their personality and passion for their craft. This is the perfect opportunity to find out if they commonly produce the results that you’re after for aesthetic dental treatments, and if they’re a good fit for an ongoing relationship, whether it’s your regular check-up and clean or you need fillings, dental implants, crowns or orthodontics in future.
5. Payment options and fees
When it comes to paying for your treatment, you may want to find out approximate costs for your potential treatment so you know what to expect when making an appointment. Often, it’s easier to get prices for the most common and concrete procedures such as a check-up and clean or in-chair teeth whitening.
If you think you’d benefit from not having to pay for your full treatment upfront, find out if the practice offers any dental payment plan options to spread out your payments over time.
6. Evaluating the dental experience
After you’ve narrowed down your options, booked an appointment and visited your chosen dentist, you’re going to want to decide if you’ve found “the one”! You may have formed your own opinion throughout the experience in the practice, but here are a few questions to ask yourself to help decide if your dentist has provided a high quality experience:
- Is the dental clinic clean, well-organised and inviting?
- Were the staff friendly, attentive and approachable?
- Did the staff happily answer any questions you had and provide you with helpful, relevant information before you even had to ask?
- Do the amenities, decor and equipment seem to be up-to date?
- Did you feel comfortable with your dentist and have compatible personalities?
- During treatment, did your dentist explain what they were doing in an easily understandable way?
- Did the dentist provide preventive care recommendations, for example a brushing and flossing routine?
If the answer to most of these questions is ‘yes’, you’ve probably found yourself a winner!
You can then feel reassured that you’ll be receiving consistently high standards of dental treatment and care.