How to Find a Dentist?

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDC), dental caries tend to be the most prevalent chronic disease in children and adult. For the last four decades, cases of dental caries for most Americans have significantly decreased. This is because of the increasing number of government projects that aims to fight off dental caries and the variety of products that can be used today to prevent them. However, prevalence for young children tends to have a reverse trend. With that, the need of a dentist especially for children should not be disregarded. So, how to find a dentist?

What is a Dentist?

A dentist is a doctor that deals with the diseases and conditions of the oral cavity. Dentists are also called “dental surgeon” and they do best in diagnosing, preventing and treating oral problems. They are supported by their aides in rendering oral health services and work as a team all the time. The members of the dental team are composed of the following: dental assistants, dental hygiene, dental technicians and sometimes, dental therapists.

Dentists are given the degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Dental Medicine. Both degrees actually mean the same thing. There are just some dental schools that prefer the latter than the former. After graduating, dentists have the option to specialize which may take 2 to 6 more years. Some of the areas of specialization that dentists can pursue are as follows:

Dental public health
Orthodontics and dentofacial orthopaedics
Oral and maxillofacial pathology
Oral and maxillofacial radiology

Dentists work in their clinic and are assisted by machines in order for them to carry out their work. Why is there a need to visit the dentist? One should visit their dentists twice a year for oral check up. This is to ensure that one is experiencing maximum oral health. Maximum oral health means that the gums, teeth and surrounding tissues are all healthy. Decayed and damaged teeth or gums does not just equate to low self esteem but also to poor health.

Those who are experiencing tooth decay or cavities may observe a distinct odor coming out of the mouth when speaking, coughing or even yawning. This is primarily due to the bacteria that grow on the teeth. Aside from the smell, the teeth may also change its color into black. These changes could lower the self esteem of the person and hinder him/her from socializing with others. In addition to this, the bacteria in the teeth may be ingested and cause infection to the person. This is very significant for pregnant women wherein ingested bacteria from decayed teeth could infect their developing fetus.

How to find a dentist?

The American Dental Association (ADA) has some suggestions when searching for a dentist. These are as follows:

  • You can ask your friends, family, neighbors or co workers if they know any dentist in your town.
  • You can ask your family doctor or local pharmacist.
  • If in case you will be moving out of your town for good, you can ask your current dentist to make recommendation.
  • You can contact your local or state dental society. You can do this by either visiting the website of the ADA or check the “Dentist” list in your telephone directory.

The ADA suggest that you try to visit as many dentist as you can and choose the one that you think you can build a long term relationship with. You need to be comfortable with your dentist so that you can have the confidence in opening up your oral health problems with him or her and also find visiting his/her clinic enjoyable. Below are some of the things that you should look for when choosing a dentist. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the office hours and are they convenient for you?
  • Where did the dentist graduated and what are her/his trainings? Is he/she certified?
  • What is the approach of the dentist in terms of preventive dentistry?
  • How often does the dentist attend continuing education such as trainings, seminars, conferences, etc.?
  • What type of anesthesia can the dentist administer? Is he/she certified for that drug?
  • In case of emergencies after clinic hours, what are the protocols or arrangements of the dentist?
  • How much is the professional fee of the dentist? Is it in line with your capability to pay? Does he/she lay down the possible expenses that may be incurred for a certain procedure prior to doing it?
  • What is the dentist’s policy regarding missed appointments?
  • Is the office or clinic of the dentist clean, neat and organized? Are all the equipments clean and well sterilized? How do the staffs sterilize their equipments?
  • Are the dental staffs accommodating and willing to answer all your questions?
  • Do the dentist and his/her staff wear protective devices when doing certain procedures?

With the above guidelines from the ADA, you sure could find the best dentist for you and your family.

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