At any given time, there are lots of people looking for a new dentist. Common reasons include moving to a new city, a long-time dentist retiring, or simply getting back to the Dentist after a layoff from dental care. Luckily, we live in the information era. We can quickly and seamlessly gather tons of information on a given topic. It helps us to choose service providers. It helps us to choose Doctors and Dentists.
Despite all of this information, many still use quick internet searches to locate service providers. Often, a top priority is proximity. In a busy world, people value convenience. This is one of the reasons that “dentist near me” is one of the top 3 search terms used to locate a Dentist on Google. Previously, my Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Family Dentist post explored the many ways in which Dentists differ. These differences underscore the importance of thinking about what you want in a Dentist. Our region is home to some of the very best Dentists you will find anywhere – but we’re all a little different. So think about what is important to you and then let those things guide your search. You can do far better than simply searching for a “dentist near me“.
An Ultra-Quick Rundown of how Dentists Differ
- Fee Collection. 2 main systems: “Fee-for-Service” and “Direct Billing”. Most people love Direct Billing Dentists because they collect all or the majority of treatment costs directly from your insurance provider. The direct billing model ensures you don’t have to pay large bills out-of-pocket. Fee-for-Service Dentists collect all treatment fees directly from you at time of treatment. What would you prefer?
- Treatment Philosophy. Some Dentists aim to keep your mouth in as close to ideal condition as possible. Others view your health and comfort as top priority. For example, “ideal-minded” Dentists will likely encourage replacing a lost tooth ASAP, while a more conservative Dentist might suggest waiting to see how you feel and function in its absence. Neither approach is wrong. But, you should be aware there are different treatment philosophies and not all Dentists are exactly the same.
- Treatment Model/Communication. 30 years ago and earlier, the common model of care in Dentistry was such that Dentists chose for you what they thought was the best treatment. Things have gradually changed. Now, Dentists are trained to present information and provide support so that patients can make the best treatment decision for themselves. This is often a balance between prognosis, treatment longevity, patient needs/lifestyle and costs. Despite this more recent focus on patient autonomy, some patients still prefer the old model. 2-3 times each year, I will have a patient instruct me: “so, tell me what I should do”. Which approach would you find more helpful?
- Menu of Services. Some Dentists place dental implants while other do not. Some Dentists remove impacted wisdom teeth. More and more Family Dentists refer children for treatment. When you are referred out for treatment, time and cost expenditures go up significantly. If this matters to you, you will probably want to find a Dentist that provides a comprehensive list of services “in-house”.
You can find out about a lot of the factors listed above by requesting a “Meet & Greet” consult with a prospective Dentist. Do this at a few offices. The time you spend doing this will be well worth it in the long run!
Finding the Best Dentist for YOU
Don’t just search for a “dentist near me“, look for the best dentist for you. Use the information I’ve provided above to guide a high quality search for a new Family Dentist. You’ll be more likely to find an office that suits you and satisfies your priorities. We’re not all the same. And the best Dentist for one person may not be the best Dentist for another.