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They say no two smiles are exactly alike. The same goes for the dentists that keep your pearly whites shining, too. Some take a more holistic approach, while others can be equipped to provide dental care for the entire family — even the tiniest of teeth!
If you’ve moved, enrolled in a new dental plan, or you’re just looking for a change, searching for a new dentist can be overwhelming. With one seemingly on every corner, how can you narrow down your choices? What qualities should you look for in a dentist? Keep reading to find out our five tips on how you can choose the right dentist — on the first try — leaving you all smiles after your first appointment. (And every six months after that.)
What should you look for when choosing a dentist
Find a dentist in-network.
A provider network is a list of healthcare providers (in this case, dentists) that your insurance contracts with to provide care to its members at a discounted price. (Like $0 out-of-pocket for routine dental cleanings discounted!)
We recommend starting here first so you can get the best possible prices for your dental care and get the most out of your dental insurance. To find dentists in your provider network, you should be able to use your dental insurance plan’s search tool to find a local dentist based on ZIP code. Kasasa Care partners up with KindHealth and Renaissance Dental to make this easy — even with over 300,000 dental access points to choose from. Learn more here.
Get referrals from people you trust.
Since a dentist offers pretty “up close and personal” care, it’s important that you feel comfortable. If you have local friends, family members, or co-workers, chances are they have a good dentist recommendation (or a few!). Bonus: your co-workers likely have the same dental insurance, so you’ll know right off the bat if the dentist is in-network. Reviews online are a reliable source too, but keep in mind that unhappy patients are more likely to leave a review than happy patients.
Research the dentist’s credentials.
You want your dentist to be well-qualified if they’re going to be working on your mouth — it’s a crucial part of your overall health and wellness, after all!
When you make your dentist short list, be sure you have a good understanding of each of their credentials. You can find out this information — like their dental school, training hospital, and certifications on healthgrades.com and state websites. While you’re doing your research, it’s also a good idea to confirm that the dentist has no history of dental malpractice or disciplinary actions.
Ask about the dentist’s service options.
Some people can make their twice-annual routine cleaning visits to the dentist and never need another service. Others need crowns, implants, or dental work for the whole family. Not all dentists perform or specialize in every dental service (some may only be cosmetic dentists or pediatric dentists, for example), so take the time to do a little research before making your first dental appointment.
Tip: while nobody expects to have a dental emergency, make sure the dentist you choose offers emergency dental care. You never know!
Evaluate the dentist’s communication style.
Just like a medical doctor’s bedside manner, a dentist’s communication style is incredibly important — especially if you’re someone that feels uneasy about visiting the dentist.
The best way to learn about a dentist’s communication style is to call the dental office and ask for a consult appointment. Think of it like a job interview — this (free!) time is your chance to see if the dentist is a good fit for you and your family. Consider:
When you first meet the dentist, how does he or she respond?
Does he or she welcome your questions?
Do you feel rushed or engaged?
How does the dentist approach topics like dental anxiety?
And while you’re there, make sure you take note of your surroundings too. Things like:
Is his or her office clean and orderly?
Does the dental equipment seem to be up to date?
Were the dental staff supportive and friendly?
Did the dentist and his or her dental hygienist staff members wear PPE (protective gear)?
Finding the perfect dentist with the help of dental insurance
Now that you know how to find the right dentist, you might be wondering what happens if you’re still at step one — finding the right dental insurance plan? And if you have health insurance, do you need dental insurance?
Dental insurance is a supplemental, affordable insurance option — like vision insurance. You might have dental benefits through your employer, or you can purchase a separate, standalone plan — like one from Renaissance Dental through Kasasa Care and KindHealth. All you have to do is answer three easy questions about yourself, and you’ll generate a free, curated list of dental plans to choose from — some with no waiting periods. Once you find a plan you like best, you can enroll in a dental plan online in a couple of clicks. (Don’t try to hide it — we see you’re starting to smile!)
Searching for the right in-network dentist might take a little effort, but the results are worth it. Soon enough, you’ll be fresh out of your new dentist’s chair showing off your glowing, healthy smile!