Here are some tips for how to choose the right dentist for the whole family. It can be tricky. But not impossible. Learn how to narrow down the search.
Your family’s teeth matter, and so does the dentist you choose to treat them. There are many reasons why you might choose a particular dentist for your family.
Perhaps you’ve been there before yourself, or you were sent there on a recommendation.
Regardless, it’s important to consider more than just one factor when choosing a family dentist, as you want your family’s teeth and overall oral health to be in good hands.
As you might know, I wrote a bestselling health and longevity book called Life is Long, Inside I share many research-based secrets to living longer, healthier younger.
In my research I discovered that maintaining good dental health can help you stay healthy overall – plus the opposite also is something to keep in mind. Bad dental hygiene can lead to a variety of health issues. So you want to make sure that you and your family are taking good care of your teeth.
When looking for a family dentist, you might be weighing issues like dental anxiety, accessibility, or demanding work and school schedules. At the same time, you’re also likely prioritizing costs, reputation, and finding a dentist who is experienced and properly qualified.
To make life easier for you, here is a list of some of the most important things to think about when it comes time for you to start your search. Let’s have a look over some of the key factors you’ll want to be thinking about when searching for the right dentist for your family.
A trip to the dentist for one person can be quite expensive, let alone the many trips needed by a whole family. That’s not too surprising, given that the average income of a general dentist in 2020 was estimated to be USD$164,010 a year, or USD$78.85 per hour. (1)
There are dental clinics out there that offer rebates, family discounts, or reasonable prices in general for their services. When looking for a family dentist, do the research and compare the rates you find to help nail down a few contenders.
Keep in mind that price can also be an indicator of quality in some cases. You want the best for your family, and paying less might end up costing you more in the long run. Depending on what you need done, it also might be worth paying more than you usually would. This might not always be the case but it’s a good example of why doing your research is important.
It’s very important to find someone who you can rely on and trust. You’re looking for a dentist who is not only capable of working on adult teeth, but can also be trusted to work on your children’s teeth. Children are often scared to go to the dentist, so it’s beneficial to choose a dentist who your whole family can trust.
You can look up online whether a specific clinic or dentist has had any issues with patients in the past, or ask them directly about their career and experience in the dental industry. This experience is something you can share with your children, or anyone in your family who has a fear of the dentist. You can even bring your kids in to speak with the dentist beforehand to ask questions and get comfortable. Many good family dentists will be willing to help organize these kinds of meetings.
Catering to the needs of a whole family can sometimes complicate the hours and schedule of a dentist. There are those out there that offer helpful flexibility: they’re able to care for children after school, parents during regular hours, and they may even offer night time services for working adults.
Flexibility is not only about scheduling but can pertain to payment too, considering your needs and putting you first as the patient. Finding a flexible dentist is not impossible. After all, in 2020 there were roughly 201,117 working dentists. It just takes a little more time, effort, and research to find the right one for you and your family. (2)
You’re probably more likely to trust a service or business if you’ve heard good feedback from people you know. Seek advice from your family and friends and find out who they go to or who they think is worth visiting.
You can also look for reviews online and in forums where people share their opinions and experiences. Here, you can not only find some good reviews but bad ones too, which will help you narrow down your search. When people have great experiences, they usually want to share this information, and the same goes for bad ones.
Reviews can really make or break the credibility of a dental clinic, especially a good review. Most people don’t enjoy going to the dentist, so if you find a real, positive review that recommends a certain dentist over another, this is a great sign.
Your family is going to have different dental needs, ranging from minor work such as fillings and cleanings, to major work such as teeth straightening solutions and dental implants. Not all dental clinics are the same, however, and not all of them offer comprehensive services. This is partially due to some dental practitioners not being trained in specific procedures or not having the right resources available. If there are certain services integral to your family dental care, you’ll want to make sure the clinic you’re looking into offers these services.
General dentistry services, such as cleaning, fillings, and regular check-ups, are usually offered in most clinics. For more serious or complex dental care, you might want to think about a full-service dental lab or even a clinic that has multiple dental surgeons and technicians. You never know what your family might need, but as they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Some clinics don’t offer dental care for children either, so make sure during your research you look for a clinic that offers full family dental care or has a pediatric dentist available. This could be the decisive factor in making your choice.
It should go without saying that you need to look into the qualifications and certifications of your family dentist. You can look into a dentist’s credentials to make sure they are a qualified practitioner who graduated from an accredited dental program.
It’s also crucial to find out if these qualifications are backed by real experience, since it’s this experience that will provide you and your family with quality dental care. You might find a dentist that has a qualification from the best dental school in the country, but if they have little to no experience, they might not be the family dentist for you.
Different dentists will not only have different amounts of experience, but specializations as well. As of 2020 about 21.2% of dentists were reported to be providing an American Dental Association (ADA) recognized specialty within their practice. (2)
You can speak to the staff and dental team for more information.
The quality of service is determined largely be how comfortable you feel within the space. Not only do you want to walk into a clinic that has a nice office space, clean surfaces, and an area for your children to play, but the dental suite should be comfortable too.
The atmosphere in the whole clinic is very important for your general comfort, but it should also help children feel at ease too. As previously mentioned, kids can be fearful of the dentist and so can some adults. Between 2015–2019, 13.2% of children aged 5–19 had untreated cavities. Whether this is due to poor planning, accessibility issues, or children refusing to go, it’s a figure that can be lessened by helping children not to be afraid of the dentist. (3)
Most people don’t enjoy having their teeth examined and the experience can be quite awkward and potentially painful. Having a comfortable atmosphere can help make sure you and your children are able to relax and feel at ease when visiting the dentist.
It’s also a good idea for anyone who has a fear of the dentist to visit your chosen clinic once or twice to see how it looks and get an idea of how you feel when you are there. If you feel comfortable in the space, you’ll know you’ve made the right choice.
When it comes to places such as the doctor’s office, the optometrist, and the dentist, cleanliness and good hygiene will probably be at the top of your list. Especially when it pertains to stuff being put in your mouth, it’s always good to know the practice is taking the proper cleaning and disinfecting measures. Dental clinics need to be wiped down, and their instruments need to be cleaned and disinfected after every use.
This will also help with comfort too, and it can easily be assessed by visiting the practice and speaking with the staff.
As previously stated, considering your finances is an absolute must when it comes to choosing a dentist for your family. Many people will have some kind of insurance to cover medical and dental expenses, at least in part. This is all a part of finding affordable dental care, and it’s worth finding a dentist that accepts whatever insurance you have.
On the flip side, if you aren’t insured, you’ll want to find a dentist that offers upfront prices and payment options. It’s important to note that in 22 states in the U.S., Medicaid only covers emergency dental services for adults. This leaves many people to face out-of-pocket expenses for fillings, cleaning, or general check-ups all on their own. (4)
In cases like these, you not only need to make sure your dentist accepts this kind of insurance, but also that your insurance is providing you with the coverage you need.
Where the clinic is will also have an impact when it comes time to make your decision. If you’re looking for somewhere to provide care for your whole family, you’re probably going to look for a place that’s close to home.
Things like picking up the kids from school, traffic, and work schedules can get in the way of heading to your usual clinic if you’re far away, so finding one local to your family is important. This is nothing that a quick search online or a chat with your neighbors can’t solve.
If you or a family member need accommodations for mobility or other issues, you’ll need to take the dental practice’s accessibility into account as well. This will be specific to your family but is nonetheless very important.
Technology keeps changing at a rapid pace, and dentistry is no exception. It’s worthwhile to ensure the dental clinic you visit has invested in advanced equipment as this will likely result in a better patient experience. If your dentist is stuck in the past, with old and unreliable equipment, you and your family could be missing out.
This kind of investment and attention to detail can also indicate how important the practice is to the dentist and the staff. You can visit the office, or check their website to see if they have an equipment listing.
Accidents happen, and dental emergencies happen more often than you might think. More than five million teeth are avulsed—meaning they’re dislodged completely from the socket— each year, which results in nearly USD$500 million being spent in replacing them. Things such as contact sports, falls, fights, and simple accidents can cause teeth to be avulsed, cracked, or damaged in some way. (5)
Each and every dental clinic should have measures put in place to respond to emergency cases. Check in with the office to find out what services they offer patients in terms of emergencies, and patient comfort in case of an emergency or dental anxiety.
Finding a family dentist is just as important as finding a family doctor. You need to look for someone who is reliable, trustworthy, and has the necessary experience and qualifications. On top of this you’ll want to consider such things as comfort, accessibility, cleanliness, cost, and reputation.
Your family’s oral health is important to their overall health, so it’s crucial to find a dentist who places the same importance on taking care of your family as you do. Hopefully this guide has given you some insight into how to find the perfect dentist for you and your family. Happy searching!