Are you new to the area? Maybe your dentist retired or left his practice? In any of these cases, you need to find a dentist pronto. Before you commit to the first DMD that your online search brings up, consider what you're really looking for. This means making a call (or a visit) to the dentist's office to ask a few pointed questions prior to scheduling your first appointment.
Asking about what insurance the office accepts and whether or not they are actually taking new patients are no-brainers. That said, there are other questions that you need to ask. While you may have concerns that are specific to your dental situation, key questions to ask the specialist should include:
1. Are you a member of a professional organization such as the American Dental Association (ADA)? Why ask this? According to the ADA, their member dentists must agree to follow the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct. This includes a promise to put the patient's well-being and health before anything else. Dentists who are associated with a professional association such as the ADA also typically have access to professional development training and recent research that a non-affiliated dentist may not. There are also regional and state dental associations, as well as specialized organizations for dental professionals such as periodontists or oral surgeons.
2. Who handles emergency care? Whether it's late at night or a weekend afternoon, sometimes dental issues creep up at times when the office isn't open. Start by asking if the dentist has emergency or on-call hours. Follow this question up by asking who will see you if you need after-hours services. In some cases it may be your regular dentist, in others it may be an associate.
3. Do you work with other dental professionals or specialists? When you set out on your search to find a dentist you may not necessarily need a specialist. Even though you might not have any specific needs or concerns right now, that doesn't mean you won't in the future. This is of special concern if you have children who may need orthodontics in the upcoming years.
Ask the dental office if they have orthodontists, oral surgeons, periodontists or other similar pros who they regularly work with. This will save you time if you do have to look for a specialist. It will also help to streamline the dental process. If your dentist works with or regularly refers patients to a specific specialist, transferring files and updating your information may be easier.
Finding the right dental professional means going beyond the obvious. While you still need to ask about the basics such as payment options and hours, including questions about professional affiliations, emergency care and specialist referrals can help you to choose a dentist's office, like Bruggeman Dental, who meets your needs.