How to Find a Good Dentist: Tips & Considerations

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
May 26, 2015

A dentist and a dental hygienist holding a mirror for their young patient as he looks at his teeth

Updated May 2023

Knowing how to find a good dentist that will be right for you and your family is important. After all, if you don’t like your dentist or don’t feel comfortable around them, you might end up avoiding checkups, cleanings, and treatments.

Whether you moved to a new place or you aren’t satisfied with the dentist you’ve been using, if you want some tips on how to choose a dentist, check out the short guide below.  

Does it matter which dentist you go to?

Yes! Think about it: once you find a dentist who delivers the highest quality care, you won’t need to worry about where to go for all your oral health needs. Finding a good dentist will set you on the right path to good oral health, which promotes overall health.

How do you find a good dentist?

Not sure where to begin the process of finding a good dentist? Here are five steps you can follow to help you with choosing a dentist:

1. Ask for referrals from people you know

You go to your friends and family for advice, right? Then why not ask them about the dentists they use? You might be able to get more than one recommendation, and you can do some research into each of your options to help you with choosing a dentist. 

In addition to family and friends, consider asking other people you trust, such as neighbors and coworkers. Or, you could consult a medical professional, such as your doctor, as they may be able to steer you in the right direction when it comes to your oral health care.

If you need to change your dentist because you’re moving or switching insurance plans, you could ask your current dentist for a list of recommended professionals. 

2. Look up information about dentists in your area

Searching for information about a dentist is another way to figure out if they’d be the optimal choice. Even if you get a referral, it’s a good idea to take a closer look at what a dentist offers to ensure they suit your preferences.

If you want to know how to find a good dentist in your area, an online search for dentists in your area can make it easy to compare them and see which ones match your needs. You can read a dentist’s website to learn about them and how their office works, including if they use the latest equipment or are trained in specialized areas like gum disease or root canals. Plus, you can look up reviews left by other patients.

3. Ask your dental insurance provider for guidance

If you have dental insurance, ask them to help you find a dentist. This can ensure you’ll receive the most benefits possible from your plan. Whether you want to stick with dentists who are in-network or you’re fine with going to an out-of-network professional, your insurer can be a valuable source of information. 

What if you’ve already found some dentists that you’re considering using? Just contact them to ask if they accept your insurance before booking an appointment. 

4. Search dental associations

When choosing a dentist, do you prefer a dentist who is part of the American Dental Association? You can go to the ADA’s website to perform a search for providers in your area.

In addition to the ADA, you can browse other organizations and associations, depending on your needs. Examples include the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO), and the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).

5. Book a consultation

Once you have a list of dentists you’re interested in using, see if they’d be willing to give you a consultation. This appointment can give you a direct experience of what their office is like and how helpful their staff is. It’s also an opportunity to ask questions, share concerns and expectations and see how the dentist interacts with you as a patient. 

Frequently asked questions about finding a good dentist

Finding a good dentist is important, but we understand it can be confusing. To help you know how to find a dentist, we have answered some common questions we hear below.

How do you know if a dentist Is good?

When choosing a dentist, looking for certain qualities can help you narrow your options when you aren’t sure which direction to take. Here are a few things to consider if you are wondering how to know if a dentist is good:

  • Education, experience, and reputation. Comparing dentists who offer similar services may be challenging, but if you hone in on what they’ve accomplished and their reputation, you might start to notice some differences.  Consider checking details like where a dental professional went to school, if they’re properly licensed and certified, how long they’ve been in business, and whether or not they’ve been involved in any lawsuits.
  • Services offered, including during emergencies. Asking about the services that a dentist provides is a smart move. That way, you’ll know what they can and can’t help you with. Are they going to be able to give you everything you need or will another dentist or specialist be required for certain types of care? Another thing to consider is a dentist’s hours of operation. Are their hours convenient? And if there’s a dental emergency, will they be available and willing to help?
  • The dentist’s staff. In addition to the dentist, you’ll interact directly with the staff, such as the individuals who set appointments and take care of billing, and the dental hygienists and assistants who support the dentist in providing care. You’ll certainly want them to be professional, trustworthy, and easy to work with as well.  

What questions should you ask a new dentist?

As a new patient at a dentist's office, it's important to ask questions to ensure you understand their services, policies, and procedures. Here are some common questions you may want to ask to make sure you are finding a good dentist:

  • What services do you offer? It's important to know the range of dental services, such as preventive care, restorative treatments, cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics and more.
  • What are your qualifications and experience? Inquire about the dentist's credentials, education and experience to ensure they are qualified to provide dental care.
  • What is your approach to preventive dentistry? Ask the dentist about their philosophy on preventive dentistry, including oral hygiene instructions, regular check-ups and recommendations for maintaining good oral health.
  • What are your payment and insurance policies? Ask about the cost of services, accepted insurance plans and payment options. Understand the dental office's billing procedures, including any fees, insurance claims and payment deadlines.
  • What are your emergency dental care procedures? Inquire about the dentist's procedures for handling dental emergencies outside regular business hours, such as after-hours or weekend emergencies.
  • Do you offer sedation dentistry options? If you have dental anxiety or fear, ask if the dentist offers sedation dentistry options, such as nitrous oxide, oral sedation or IV sedation.
  • What is your policy on missed appointments or cancellations? Understand the dental office's policy regarding missed appointments, cancellations, rescheduling and any associated fees.
  • How often should I come for dental check-ups and cleanings? Ask the dentist about their recommended frequency for routine dental check-ups and cleanings, based on your oral health condition.
  • Do you have any special considerations for patients with specific health conditions or needs? If you have any pre-existing health conditions or special needs, such as diabetes, pregnancy or allergies, ask if the dentist has any specific considerations or accommodations.
  • Can you explain the recommended treatment plan in detail? If the dentist recommends any dental treatments, ask for a detailed explanation of the treatment plan, including the benefits, risks and alternatives.

Remember, open communication with your dentist is crucial for building a trusting relationship and ensuring you receive the best possible dental care. Don't hesitate to ask any questions or seek clarifications to make informed decisions about your oral health.

Let Spirit Dental help you with finding a good dentist

Even though it might be a bit daunting at first, once you get the hang of things and have a strategy to follow, you’ll more easily find a qualified dentist who is patient, respectful and makes you feel totally at ease.  

Now that you know more about how to find a good dentist, you can start your search by using our dentist finder tool, which can help you locate a professional who’s in-network and will allow you to get the most savings from your dental plan from Spirit Dental. If you need dental insurance, it's fast and easy to get dental insurance quotes online from Spirit Dental.




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