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How to Find and Choose a Good Dentist

Finding the right dentist for you and your family can be as taxing as finding a parking space in a crowded shopping center. With thousands of dentists practicing all over the country — with their own specializations, specific locations and office hours — how do you narrow your search down to that one dentist who’s right for you?

What Type of Dentist Do You Need?

General dentists often use the monikers “cosmetic dentist” or “family dentistry” to indicate that they offer cosmetic dental treatments or can treat your whole family but these aren’t officially recognized dental specializations. The dental specialists recognized by the American Dental Association include pedodontists, also known as a pediatric dentist (kid dentist), endodontists (root canal specialists), oral and maxillofacial surgeons (tooth extraction and oral surgery), prosthodontists (restorative specialists), periodontists (gum disease treatment specialists) and for dental braces, an orthodontist (bite specialist).

When you have symptoms such as a severe toothache, constant jaw pain or bleeding gums, it can be easy to automatically assume that you need to see a dental specialist. While you could be onto something, most dental specialists require that you first see a general dentist for a comprehensive dental exam.

If your general dentist determines that you need treatments that are outside the realm of their ability, he or she will then refer you to the appropriate specialist. Keep in mind, however, that many general dentists do perform some of the same treatments as dental specialists, such as wisdom teeth extractions and root canals along with dental crown and dental bridge procedures.

Finding the Best Dentist for You and Your Family

It’s important to ask the right questions when you’re trying to choose the right dentist. Find out key information about the dentist’s office such as:

Dentist’s Training — Inquire about the dentist’s clinical experience and training with any of the procedures you may require.

Office Location — Aside from everyday convenience, consider how long it will take you to get to the dentist’s office in an emergency.

Office Hours and Emergency Care — It’s also a good idea to find out if your dentist works as an emergency dentist. Do they have evening hours and are they available on weekends?

Patient Comfort — Ask if the office has amenities to make your treatments more comfortable, such as sedation dentistry.

Fees and Payment Plans — Know if the office accepts your dental insurance and how much your out-of-pocket expense may be.

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