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Looking for the right dentist part I


LOOKING FOR THE RIGHT DENTIST FOR YOU!

Overcoming the fear and mistrust of going to the dentist requires finding the right person to take care of your teeth and gums. But before we can advise you on how to find that person, you need to do a little soul-searching because dentistry is a product as well as a service. And, because it is also a highly personalized service, it is tough to write a list of hard and fast rules concerning how to find a dentist who is going to be just right for you. This is a process that will take you time, research, and interviewing.

What we can tell you for certain is that dedicated dentists take a sincere interest in their patients. And a good dentist and dental team respectfully treat the whole person, as well as the mouth. Your dental team will ask a lot of questions about your medical history and previous dental experience and, in turn, will eagerly answer your questions and concerns. Preventive dental care is their number one priority.

First Things First: Define Your Dental Priorities

Before you begin your search for Dr. Right, decide how healthy you want your mouth to be. Ask yourself two defining questions:

1). Are you serious about keeping your teeth for the rest of your life?
2). Do you only go to the dentist when you have problem with a tooth or a dental emergency?

      If you answered yes to the second question, almost any dentist can do the job you want. On the other hand, a resounding yes to the first question says that you are looking for a capable, prevention-minded dentist who will care for your dental health and help you hang on to one of your most cherished possessions-your teeth. In other words, you are looking for Dr. Right. Now that you've defined your dental priorities, you are ready for the next step-the search.

      Looking for Dr. Right

      There's more than one source for finding a Dr. Right. You can turn to the Yellow Pages, call a toll free referral service, read newspaper and magazine ads, find a name on a Web site, get a referral from a friend (or your former dentist), or select a name from a list provided by your dental insurance plan. It all boils down to making sure for yourself whether you are in the right place. Do your research and follow your instincts.

      If you are looking for a new dentist and get a name from a friend, follow up with an interview phone call to the dental office. But don't stop there. Interview two or three additional dental offices. Ask questions and use our list of guidelines to help you determine professional and technical compatibility. One of the most important things to bring with you on your search is your intuitive powers. Yes, your intuition goes a long way in detecting whether the people you meet are sincere and whether you will be comfortable in their care.

      In most cases, the phone will serve as your primary search tool. You can judge a lot about a dental practice from your first phone call. If the person answering the phone (the receptionist, front desk person, office manager or, heaven forbid, the dentist) is cheerful, helpful, patient, and answers all your questions, that is a good start and a signal that you may want to take it one step further. Ask about the office policy concerning new patients:

      * Do they arrange a "get acquainted" visit with the dentist?
      * Do they suggest a "walk through" of the office and an introduction to the dental team members?
      * Do they have a designated staff person who routinely meets new patients and answers questions concerning the dental practice and its policies and procedures?
      *Is it necessary to make an "on the books" dental appointment for a comprehensive dental examination?

      Sink Your Teeth into This: Not every dental practice is set up to do "get acquainted" visits with the dentist, and very few have a designated staff member who handles new patient interviews. However, that is no indication of good or bad dentistry, and you shouldn't let it rule out a good prospect. In most cases, the standard operating procedure will be to schedule a first appointment with a dental examination. When this is the case, you want to make sure that you will get a comprehensive dental exam.

      And remember, not every phone call is going to get you somewhere. Depending on who you call and where you live, you may feel that you are being brushed off, or you may sense that the person answering the phone is too rushed to answer your questions. It's also possible that you won't be able to get an appointment with the dentist for a couple of months. There are several reasons why this happens:

      * The dental practice may be so good that there is a waiting list of people who want to become patients.
      * Time management and appointment scheduling may be inefficient.
      * The dental practice may have a "get them in and get them out" philosophy, which explains why you felt rushed.
      * The person answering the phone may not be properly trained in customer service skills.

      To be continued...(From <I hate the dentist> by Dr. Mac Lee)


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