There is no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a dental clinic. We have moved on from the days when every town would have a dentist that everyone would go to, regardless of whether that dentist was any good. Now, an Internet search of your location plus the word “dentist” is likely to yield dozens, if not hundreds of results.
It can be difficult to pick out the right dentist from the many choices that you are presented with. To make an overwhelming task a little easier, we address the top five questions to ask when it comes to looking for a dental clinic.
#1 What Are The Dentist’s Qualifications?
In Ontario – and in most jurisdictions across North America, you can view information about your prospective dentist on the regulatory body’s website. You will be able to see where they practice, what permits they have, when and where they obtained their qualifications, whether any complaints have been made against them, and the outcome of the complaints.
It is important to note that the presence of a complaint is not automatically a bad thing: in many cases, complaints are resolved by upgrading a certification or obtaining the right permit for a piece of equipment.
What you are looking for is:
- Evidence that the dentist is qualified to provide the dental care you need
- The absence of wilful negligence or misconduct
#2 What Do Current And Former Patients Say?
Reviews matter when it comes to dentists, but it is worth remembering that unless someone’s experience has been exceptional, they may not bother to post a review. On the other hand, if someone has had a bad experience with a dentist, they will be quicker to tell the world about it in a review. What this means is that a dentist’s overall ratings may trend a little lower than the reality. The red flag to look out for is multiple people posting a similar complaint.
Of course, the best way to gauge a dental clinic’s reputation is by talking to friends, family members and neighbours who can tell you about their personal experiences.
Another option – one that is increasingly effective – is to ask your neighbourhood Facebook group for recommendations. In many cases, multiple members of the group will recommend the same dentist.
#3 Are Clinic Staff Approachable?
Dental care can be fraught with anxiety. It is estimated that around forty percent of Canadians have a moderate or severe fear of dentists. The best way to alleviate this anxiety is through communication. It is worth your while to make sure you can talk to your dentist, ask them questions, and alleviate your concerns.
If the clinic staff seem reluctant to engage in a discussion with you about the dental care you will receive, it may be better for you to look elsewhere. Your dental care has a much higher chance of succeeding if you understand the procedures that you will be undergoing, and if you have a relationship of trust with your dentist.
#4 When And Where Does The Dental Clinic Operate?
Having a great dentist isn’t much use if you cannot get to them when you need to. Find out where they are located, how to get there either by driving or by taking public transportation, and whether parking is available. You will also need to know what their operating hours are, and whether they have after-hours contact information for emergencies.
#5 How Does The Dental Clinic Handle Insurance And Payment?
In Canada, provincial health plans do not cover dental care. However, there may be coverage for children, senior citizens, and people with disabilities. When you are researching dentists, be sure to find out if they accept whatever coverage you have, and how they handle claims to your dental insurance company.
Some dentists will submit your claim directly to your insurance company; with others, you need to pay the dentist and then claim the amount from the insurer. If you are footing the bill yourself, ask the dental clinic about payment terms.
Once you have answers to these questions that make you feel confident about your choice, schedule an appointment to see the prospective dentist. At that first appointment, you are unlikely to have dental work done unless it is an emergency visit. You may have some X-rays taken, and the dentist will talk to you about your dental needs and which treatments are right for you.
At Art Of Dentistry, we strive to help our patients feel at ease as they begin their dental treatments. We clearly explain all of your options, and we are happy to answer any questions you may have. To find out more, call us at 416-927-7677.
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