What to Avoid When Looking for a Top Dentist
If you are serious about finding a Top Dentist, you’ll need to put in some time vetting a number of dentists in your local area. Here are some issues that should set off warning bells as you do your research. These “red flags” don’t always mean that the dentist is awful. But the more of these red flags you notice, the higher the likelihood that the provider in question isn’t really the best you could hope to find.
New Dentist on the Block
Everybody has to start out in practice sometime. Dentists who are freshly accredited have gone through training and evaluation to ensure they do know what they are doing. But someone who has just hung out a shingle for the first time isn’t going to offer you the added value of years of experience. You want to go to a dentist who has on-the-job know-how in addition to a degree. A new dental office doesn’t always mean a dentist is wet behind the ears. Check to see if the dentist had an established, successful practice in another area and has simply moved to a new location or opened a second office to expand the business.
Wheeling and Dealing
It’s a normal practice for dentists to offer moderate discounts or run specials occasionally to attract first time patients. This is especially true for dentists who have just moved their practice to a new area and need to build a patient base fast. However, a well-established Top Dentist is not going to be desperate for business. The best of the best often source a high percentage of their new patients by word of mouth referrals. They don’t need to offer 90 percent off deals every month to get people in the door. If a dentist is offering rock bottom prices all the time, you might want to consider why they can’t seem to keep patients over the long term or how they can stay in business charging so little. Are they rushing through patient consultations and treatment to make up for low quality work with high volume caseloads?
A Matter of Reputation
Online reviews can be helpful or just plain confusing, but you should always read them to get a sense for the level of overall patient satisfaction. Bear in mind that you aren’t getting both sides of every “horror story.” For example, a patient may complain in a review that they got a crown and it only lasted a few years. There are many reasons a crown can fail. Some of these problems have to do with continued decay or a patient’s lifestyle habits. No dental work is guaranteed to last a lifetime. Of course, if you see many complaints about shoddy work that doesn’t last, that’s a sure sign that something is wrong. Other comments to look for are those that describe:
- Rude, disorganized or unprofessional staff
- Any sign that the facility is not kept clean and sanitary
- Rushed dentists who don’t take the time to ask and answer questions
- Dentists who are insensitive to patients’ pain or who have a poor chair-side manner
Each state has its own resources to help you determine whether your dentist is currently practicing with a valid license. This information can usually be accessed for free on the state’s medical board database. That’s the bare minimum you should know. You will typically also be able to see if the dentist has been successfully sued for malpractice in the past. If you want to make sure there are no problems lurking below the surface, you can find out if anyone has taken legal action against a dentist that is still pending or if there have been many patients who sued the dentist but lost. This information may be available for a small fee depending on where you live. Even the best dentist may have been sued at least once during their years of practice. However, a pattern of seriously dissatisfied customers is a real warning sign.