Finding a good Dentist for you and your family is not dentures almaden. Although, sitting through dental checkups, poking around in your gaping mouth, drilling and grinding is not pleasant, there are ten very simple steps that virtually guarantee success. The first two tips are the ideal place to start. What kind of Dentist do you need? Do you need a special Dentist for your children? Until you answer these fundamental questions, all else is moot.
I. What kind of Dentist do I need?
State Board licensed Dentists in general practice are fully qualified to provide nearly all aspects of dental care. General Dentists often label themselves “cosmetic Dentist” to indicate that they offer cosmetic dental treatments, or a “family Dentist” can treat your whole family. These designations are not officially recognized dental specializations. Dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association include Endodontist (root canal therapy), Maxillofacial and Oral Surgeon (tooth extraction and oral surgery), Orthodontist (braces and repositioning teeth), Pedodontist or Pediatric Dentist (specializing in children and teens), periodontist (care of gums and supporting tissues) and Prosthodontists (restorative and rehabilitation specialists.)
If you have extreme symptoms such as bleeding gums, constant jaw pain or severe toothache, it is easy and automatic to assume that you need a dental specialist. While that may be true, most dental specialists require that you first see a general Dentist for a comprehensive dental exam, and a referral as required.
If your general Dentist determines that you need treatments that are outside their expertise, he or she should then refer you to an appropriate specialist. Bear in mind that many general Dentists actually perform some of the same treatments as dental specialists, such as wisdom tooth extraction, root canals, and dental crown and bridge procedures.
Therefore, find a general Dentist with whom you feel comfortable. Setup regular visits, and go ask your questions.
II. Do I need a special Dentist for my children?
Based on your family situation, you will decide between a General Dentist or a Children’s (Pediatric) Dentist. Although, a Pediatric Dentist may be your best choice for that special child, many General Dentists are comfortable treating children with special health care needs. Talk with a Dentist about your child’s condition to decide on the best dental home for your child.
Pediatric Dentists specialize in caring for children’s teeth. After dental school, a Pediatric Dentist has an extra two to three years of training in dentistry for children. This training includes treatment of children with special health care needs. Based on your child’s needs, you may decide on a Pediatric Dentist.
Your child’s first visit should be by 1 year old. The Dentist will talk with you about your child’s medical history – prenatal, developmental history, and current condition. The Dentist will ask questions to find out if your child is at low, moderate or high risk for cavities and gum disease. This information is used to make a plan to help prevent problems in the mouth.
For infants and toddlers, the Dentist may take just a quick look at how the teeth are growing and the condition of your child’s mouth. As your child gets older the Dentist will more thoroughly check the mouth, clean the teeth, and take x-rays.
Infants and young children often sit in their parent’s lap or in a “knee to knee” position. A child may need more help to be relaxed and still during treatment.
In some cases, conscious sedation (medicine given to your child to drink or given through the veins) is used. It calms your child and he stays awake and responsive. Along with medication, a safety restraint may be used so your child does not move and jerk. A common type is a papoose system – wrapping a child snugly in a special blanket. This keeps their arms, legs and head still so the Dentist can work safely.
The Dentist or Hygienist should give you detailed instructions on how to care for your child’s teeth and mouth. You should practice brushing and flossing so you feel comfortable. Brush at least two times a day.
Most children should see a Dentist or dental hygienist two times a year. Your Dentist may suggest your child visit every 3 – 4 months.
Mike Schleif formed MDS Resource in 1990 to guide local business to the onramp of the Internet. Marketing local business online is his passion. As a consultant he’s recognized & requested by some of the most well known companies in the world: AT&T, IBM, Target. Returning to the Twin Cities late 2008, he had to find a Dentist, and this is what he learned. Look here for more free information about finding a dentist, especially near Plymouth, MN.
Learn about your dentist’s experience and training, as well as clinical expertise. If you anticipate that a lot of work will need to be done in a specific area, see what the dentist can offer you, how familiar they are with the procedure and how often they have done it. Make sure beforehand that they can take care of most problems you may have, and not refer everything to another party.
2. Check prices. If they seem outrageously low, there may be a reason. If they seem too high, think again: you don’t want to put off necessary treatment because you can’t afford it. See, also, what your dental insurance will cover, and ask whether your chosen dentist accepts your insurance plan. If not, you may have to start your search again from scratch!
3. Learn how long your dentist has had the practice, and whether he or she has a satisfied customer list. If he or she has a long waiting list, or you have to wait weeks for an appointment, that may be indicative that you’re onto a good thing. Then again, it may just add frustration when you need to book an emergency appointment yourself.
4. If you plan on having extensive cosmetic dentistry carried out, ask if you can talk to previous patients – and/or see before and after photos. Quiz your dentist about the procedures you are interested in, and ask how many times he or she has performed them in the past. Make sure they are up-to-date with the latest advances, and that they stay on top of the game.
5. Decide what’s important to you, and see how your dentist can fit your needs. Do you prefer someone who can see you on weekends? Do you want a dentist who can treat your dental phobias with sedation before any major treatment? Would you prefer your dentist to use more modern tools, such as lasers, instead of scalpels? Do they have a TV on the ceiling, or provide iPods to use on-site?
6. Ask your potential dentist about their referral process if you need specialized treatment. You may spent weeks searching for the right dentist, only to find they refer you to someone you don’t rate. Chances are, however, that if they are a good dentist they’ll refer you to someone on the same level.
7. Decide if you genuinely like the guy – or gal – and if you feel comfortable with the dental staff and the general surroundings. Many people dread the dentist because they are scared of drills, discomfort and pain. Don’t make things worse by picking a dentist you can’t stand to be in the same room with for more than three minutes! And if you don’t feel you can honestly trust them, it’s time to go somewhere else.
Different Dental Specialties
You may have found the right general dentist, but what if you or someone in your family needs more specialized treatment? You should know all you can about the different types of dental specialties on offer. They include:
General Dentist. Will deal with everything from extracting molars to wisdom teeth. When they will refer patients to a specialist is a personal decision; some dentists do the vast majority of dental work themselves while others refer more often than not. You may feel more comfortable with a specialist referral, or you may prefer everything to be done in-house.
Endodontist. Specializes in the inner workings of the teeth, particularly root canals.
Orthodontist. Takes care of the tooth development, as well as their growth and the growth of the face and jaws. Can deal with overcrowding of teeth, protruding teeth, impacted teeth, under- and over-bites and teeth that are asymmetrical. Can also put on and maintain orthodontic braces. Also does oral and maxillofacial surgery.
Periodontist. Knows how to deal with and treat gum disease, also known as periodontitis. Can clean teeth and gums, do bone rafts and even do dental implants, when necessary.
Pediatric Dentist. Specializes in treating children. Knows not only everything there is to know about dental care in kids, but also creates a soothing, happy environment that encourages them to want to come back, again and again.
Cosmetic Dentist. Performs a wide variety of treatments, most of which are cosmetic but many of which are also functional in nature. From tooth whitening to veneers to bridgework, a cosmetic dentist knows all there is to give you the perfect smile.
Prosthodontist. Rebuilds and replaces teeth by making dentures, bridges and implants.
Finding the right dentist – and the right dental specialist – is an important decision for you and your family. Some people see the same dentist for decades, referring them on to children and even grandchildren. Remember, though, that making sure you have – and maintain – a bright, clean smile is ultimately your responsibility, not your dentist’s. So take it seriously, not only by having regular dental visits but by brushing and flossing regularly and eating a balanced diet.