Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS January 25, 2016
All dentists in the US have gone through a formal education and have been licensed in the state in which they practice. But the similarity stops there. The best dentists have taken many continuing education courses beyond their formal dental training and beyond the few hours that are required annually by their state dental boards to maintain their license.
So, what makes a dentist the perfect dentist for you? I have my personal opinions. Here are nine tips that come to mind. They’re not in any special order, and probably there are many more:
- Word of mouth is the best advertisement. You should inquire from patients about their experiences with the dentist you are considering. Reviews online could be helpful; however, some people who have an unwarranted grudge might post complaints that are unfounded. So, beware of what you read.
- Ask the staff questions, not just the dentist. Learn if these employees are on the same page as you. If the staff cannot answer some of your questions, then the office may not be as up-to-date as you want it to be.
- You should be able to ask your prospective dentist what types of continuing education courses he or she has taken in the last three years. You want to have your dentist up-to-date with the latest technologies. Some of these courses should be hands-on programs where the dentist not only is learning new information, but also is obtaining clinical experience by working on patients in a teaching environment.
- Your dental office should be offering information and patient demonstrations on proper oral hygiene. This is not the same thing as being given a toothbrush and dental floss as you leave the office. The hygienist or someone else should show you in your mouth how to clean effectively under the gum tissues with a toothbrush, how to use floss correctly, how to clean between your teeth with a tiny brush, and how to remove harmful bacteria from your tongue. This instruction should also include why these techniques are important.
- I believe amalgam (mercury) restorations should not be placed in the mouth under any circumstances. If this office were still placing amalgam restorations, I would consider going to another office.
- If you need existing amalgam restorations removed from your mouth, your dentist should be able to explain to you how he or she will remove them so that the vaporized mercury will not contaminate you or anyone else in the office. If your dentist cannot satisfactorily explain the process, then find another dentist who can.
- I believe proper nutrition is critical for dental and overall health. That means removing foods from your diet that are not helping your individual cells to be as healthy as they should be. It also means introducing foods that your body requires but that you may not be eating currently. There are many ways to determine your needs, but your dentist should be able to explain this to you to your satisfaction.
- To do a thorough examination, the doctor needs to spend time with you. Is your time with the doctor adequate for you to voice your concerns and for the doctor to examine your mouth? In my office, I see new patients for one hour to have this discussion and to perform my examination. If new x-rays were required, that would require additional time.
- I don’t believe in stereotyping. However, I think that the dentist you are considering should be an example of health. If I were in search for a personal healthcare professional, I would not consider an individual who appeared unhealthy to me. How could I take advice from one who did not practice what he or she should be embodying?
If you have specific questions about your search for the perfect dentist with which you think I can help, send me an email. I will do my best to answer your questions in a timely manner.
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