Choosing a dentist is an important decision. The first phone call and appointment should be the start of a strong, trusting relationship. A good relationship with your dentist ensures good outcomes, affordable care, and lower levels of anxiety during appointments.
In order to establish whether your new dentist is a good fit for you, you need to ask certain questions. Here are five key questions you should ask:
What Should I Expect If I Haven’t Been to the Dentist in a While?
Some people seeking a new dentist are doing so because they moved, their old dentist retired, etc. Others may not have had treatment in a while. If you fall into this latter category, ask what to expect.
Some dentists will do full x-rays on all new patients, whilst others will concentrate on problem areas. Be aware that the latter may be cheaper, but also may result in issues being missed.
Ask about what procedures to expect, and who will be performing them. This might include cleanings, x-rays, and more invasive procedures such as fillings or deep cleaning. You want to be comfortable with everyone who will be working on your mouth, but also find out what the dentist does themselves and what they delegate.
What Will the Dentist Be Looking For?
Depending on your symptoms and issues, a scheduler or dental assistant may be able to give you some idea of the scope of what a dentist is likely to see. While dental assistants can’t provide a diagnosis, they can usually tell you if you have signs of periodontal disease or gingivitis.
A good dentist will be looking for all issues with your mouth, not just tooth decay. In fact, dentists are a key part of screening for oral cancer. Make sure that the dentist you choose will pay attention to lumps, sores, discoloration etc, in and around your mouth.
Your first exam should be comprehensive so your dentist is aware of all of your problems. This will save you money in the long term (and in the case of cancer screenings can potentially save your life).
How Do You Address Dental Anxiety?
About 36% of people experience some level of dental anxiety. 12% experience severe phobias. It’s part of a dentist’s job to address anxiety from patients. Anxiety is a common reason why people put off dental care.
What strategies do they put in place to make you more comfortable? Many modern dentists’ offices have televisions above the chair to help distract you. If they do, ask if they will change the channel for you if it happens to be left on something that you don’t like. It might also include calming language and, if needed, sedation. A good dentist will talk to you personally about your levels of anxiety and what triggers them.
Is My Visit Going to Make My Current Pain Level Worse?
This particular fear is a major contributor to dental anxiety. Ask this question if you have that anxiety, to subtly inform them it is an issue. It may also clue them in that you are going to be wanting help with pain management. Most dental procedures don’t worsen pain, or do so only temporarily, but the anxious brain is not always convinced of that.
How Much Time Should I Expect My Visit To Take?
Asking how much time you should allow for the appointment is a very reasonable question. Some dentists are in and out faster than others. You may want to be done quickly, or you may prefer for the dentist to spend longer easing your fears. Knowing how long you are going to be in the chair can alleviate anxiety, as well as allowing you to better plan your day and take the appropriate amount of time off of work.
Some dentists may give you the option of doing a needed procedure right away rather than having you come back, so ask about that too.
Many of these questions can be asked of the scheduler over the phone, but not all. It’s a good idea to write down questions you have for the dentist, dental assistant, or hygienist so you don’t forget them. It’s easy to forget if you are feeling anxious.
If your initial phone call fails to alleviate your concerns or makes you more anxious, it’s probably time to look at another provider. Such as Today’s Dental! We have been in business for over 40 years, have won Best of Omaha 12 years in a row, and average 4.9 stars on Google. Contact us to find out how we can help your mouth and to schedule your appointment.