From general dental care to a smile makeover one of the most significant oral health decisions you make is choosing a dentist. Fortunately, in Canada, there is no shortage of dental professionals—particularly in urban centers. However, your needs are about quality, not quantity, and if you want to determine the best one for you be sure to consider these five traits you should look for in your dentist.
1: Are they a general or specialist dentist?
One of the first attributes to look for is whether they are a general or specialist dentist. This will be a factor if you are considering specific treatment needs, such as dental implants or orthodontic treatment. It may also be a decisive element if you have children, where you may feel the expertise and techniques of a pediatric dentist will be preferable to a general dentist.
For the majority of us, a good general dentist will meet our needs. A good home hygiene routine of brushing and flossing twice daily, supported by regular check-ups with the dentist should be enough to maintain our dental health. If there are any issues, regular check-ups will spot them early enough so they can be easily remedied by your dentist with minor treatments.
2: Do they have the experience to provide consistently good quality care?
All dentists in Canada are licensed by the National Dental Examination Board of Canada after obtaining a BDS/DDS/DMD degree. Specialist dentists undertake further training and can apply for recognition as a certified specialist between two and six years after postgraduate training, depending on what the specialty is.
Thus, a good quality dentist has already put in hours of training. Remember that experience doesn’t always equate to age. Younger dentists are likely to be better trained than older dentists and have greater experience in newer techniques and practices.
3: Do they offer a good experience to patients?
Although quality of treatment is a priority, what about the rest of the experience? Does the office look clean and hygienic? Is it equipped with up-to-date technologies? Cleanliness should go without saying, but if the office looks neglected and does not provide a gleaming, professional environment you have to wonder what else they may be overlooking?
A good dentist should be concerned about providing patients with a good all-round experience. They should make sure you are comfortable in your surroundings and with the treatment, you are receiving.
4: Is your dentist a good listener?
We all have different needs when we go to the dentist. It is crucial your dentist listens and understands your goals, hopes, and fears to create a tailor-made, positive experience. They should advise you on the treatments that will help you realize your goals, that meet your dental health, cosmetic and budgetary requirements.
While there are often several different treatments that will meet your needs, as a medical professional your dentist should only recommend treatments that are suitable and not upsell or carry out work that is unnecessary, or that you haven’t agreed to.
If you are an anxious patient, their empathy can make a huge difference in whether you will be relaxed enough to undergo treatment. A good dentist will have a calming influence and will provide appropriate sedation options to make your experience as comfortable as possible.
5: Do they respect your time?
While everyone runs late from time-to-time, particularly in medicine and dentistry when an emergency appointment can skew the schedule, it should not be a regular occurrence. Your dentist should be respectful and adhere to your scheduled appointment time. If they have a persistently full waiting room of patients whose appointments are running late then you might want to consider somewhere else if your time is precious.
6: Do they follow-up on your care?
Patient management after a procedure is an important component of modern dental care. Depending on the nature of the treatment you have, your dentist should schedule a follow-up appointment to check that everything is healing as it should, or at least call to see how you are doing. If you have had major work many dentists will provide you with an emergency number to call if you are worried.
Your chances of having complications are likely to be lower if you have a dentist who provides a good follow-up service. Plus, it can also help to quell your anxieties and put your mind at ease if you know there is someone there if you need them.
A good dentist is worth their weight in gold. Finding a dentist with these six traits should put you on the way to choosing the right dentist who will meet your needs with the minimum of fuss.
Amanda Duffy has considerable knowledge of the fields of dentistry and oral health, gained from a 20-year career in the healthcare sector, including a decade in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service and years of experience writing high-quality dental content. Amanda Duffy is currently the lead dental writer at Bond St Dental.