Health and Medical

Healthy Smiles: A Simple Guide to Choosing a Dentist

Healthy Smiles: A Simple Guide to Choosing a Dentist

While choosing a dentist may sometimes be a struggle, the number of doctors practicing dentistry has increased since 2007, right along with the United States population.

In 2020, there were about 201,100 dentists in the United States. That’s some 61 dentists per 100,000 people. In addition, most states saw an increase in dentists, with Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, and Alaska experiencing a surge in growth.

So, in much of the country, there is no issue with physically finding a dentist, but choosing a new dentist that you want to visit regularly is another kettle of fish.

And while one might argue that there is no one best way to choose a dentist, tips for choosing a dentist (like how they match up with your finances) indeed exist.

In the following article, we’ll discuss how to choose a dentist that fits your budget and lifestyle.

Budget and Insurance

Many people will tell you that you shouldn’t let your insurance company or health care provider’s list of accepted dentists determine your final choice. They say that these lists have little to do with quality service and everything to do with how much coverage these dentists give you.

This is true. You shouldn’t let these factors become your sole arbiter. However, you should not scoff at how much dental work can cost out-of-pocket.

A crown can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,500 a tooth. Basic cleaning and X-rays anywhere from $75 to $200. So scoffing at your insurance provider’s list of dentists isn’t a great idea, but you should also check with prospective dentists that aren’t on the list to compare prices and to see if they accept your insurance.

Remember, you’ll get the most out of dentists you go to regularly, not one your insurance company pays easily.

Services and References

Depending on the size of your family and what work you anticipate you’ll need, you may want to consider choosing a dentist that can easily refer you to an oral surgeon or orthodontist in the network.

This is important because you don’t want to be told by your new dentist that you or your family needs a specialist, only to have to start the search process all over again. Ask the dentist’s office if they make regular referrals and if they know if these specialists accept your insurance.

Also, the dentist’s website should be easy to navigate and book an appointment on, like

Word of Mouth

Once you’ve settled on a few dentists, check out their online reviews. Besides the dentists’ general demeanor, look for people praising (not condemning) the quality of their work and its longevity. Beware of situations where people complain that they had to go elsewhere to get the work “fixed” or redone.

None of those cases where issues needed to be corrected were painless or were without cost.

Also, make sure that people also praise the office staff. Life is busy enough without fighting for an appointment or dealing with poor customer service.

Choosing a Dentist that Fits You

Schedule a cleaning and see if you like the dentist. Ask the dentist and the staff about working in the practice, about themselves, and your dental health. If you don’t get the attitude or demeanor that fits your personality, that doesn’t make the doctor a poor dentist, but it may make them unsuitable for you.

Don’t feel pressure to schedule a follow-up appointment if you’re not sure you want to come back.

The Right Choice for You

Choosing a dentist doesn’t have to become an ordeal, but you do need to take some time to determine the right one for you or your family. Make sure that your next dentist fits your budget, lifestyle and can help you ensure proper dental hygiene.

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