How Do I Find The Right Dentist?
You phone up to make an appointment for you regular check-up at the dentist. The receptionist regrets to inform you that your chosen dentist is no longer with the practice. Either they have retired, moved to a different clinic, or selfishly gone and kicked the bucket on you!
The reality is that at some point you are going to have to shop around for a new dentist. This begs the question, ‘How do I find the right dentist?’. This post will outline how to improve your chances of finding a star clinician, whilst avoiding the hacks.
Nowadays we don’t make any sort of service based consumer decision without first consulting the oracle that is google.
Whilst a snazzy website doesn't necessarily mean snazzy treatment, a poor and outdated website with no attention to detail speaks volumes about the characteristics of the characters behind the organization.
Clear contact details, a comprehensive outline of treatment provided, transparent costs and a lack of stock photos also let you know the practice is the real deal. You can also cross-reference your choice of local surgeries on review websites like whatclinic.com.
The best place to enquire about this is normally the ‘about’ or ‘meet the team’ section of the practice’s website. Here you will find an outline of all the practitioners, and they will usually have a mugshot.
Seeing the word ‘(Hons)’ after the dentist’s qualification is a great sign as it means within their initial intensive 5 year training they were top of their class.Don’t worry too much about looking up all the various degree acronyms, as all the postgraduate qualifications will be explained in the blurb about the dentist.
If you want further clarification about the dentist’s qualifications or what their areas of special interests are, don’t hesitate to call the practice. A talented receptionist should be able to help you suss out which member of the team who will best suit your needs.
‘The Patient Journey’
This is a term used to describe your customer service experience, from your initial enquiries to the practice, right the way through to any follow up care that is arranged for you after any treatment that you receive.
Good dentists will have set up their practice in such a way that you feel welcomed before you even meet them (i.e. positive and engaging marketing, a welcoming front desk staff, comfortable waiting rooms etc).
The Patient Journey then really begins in earnest with your first appointment. You should have plenty of time for this - 45 mins to an hour is the hallmark of a good practice, and you should not feel pressured into any treatment. Think of it as a friendly chat. It is your opportunity to see if this will be a ‘good fit’.
Often people are in the position where they are having to find the ‘right’ dentist because they are very nervous about treatment. Here are some medicinal techniques that dentists can use to help you feel relaxed. Good dentists are pretty much always well able to help you be at ease before, during and after your appointment!
This is the biggie for a lot of people; word of mouth referral. Reputation is everything, and past customer reviews on websites such as Google, Facebook and Word of Mouth Online can shed a lot of light on a dentistry practice.
Another great way to asses a dentist is by their ‘case work’ and testimonials. Good dentists will have before and after pictures of successful clients, and often video or written testimonials from very happy customers. If you ask for these at the front desk or check around online you will soon get a more balanced view of their skills.
People often complain that dentistry hurts their wallet more than their mouth. Unfortunately, that is just the way the cookie crumbles – dentistry costs in Australia are some of the highest in the world.
You are paying a highly skilled person to perform incredibly accurate work inside your body. That’s not to mention the huge overhead of medical-grade materials, specialized equipment, and high staffing costs. Its going to cost you, so get used to it!
There is however a happy medium to be found. Rock bottom prices usually mean bottom rung dentistry, but if their fees seem extortionate, enquire as to why. Good dentists should be able to justify their price-points to your satisfaction.
Dental tourism is one workaround that patients are taking to save money on expensive dental costs. Read more about dental tourism options here.
Communicative Style and Passion for Their Job
Good dentists are not only excellent with their hands in terms of treatment, they also need to be excellent communicators to be a ‘home run’. If you find someone whom you trust, who explains the need for treatment in a way that you can understand, and with whom you feel at ease, then hold onto them!
Dentistry is a stressful and demanding profession. A dirty little secret amongst the profession is that there are plenty of dentists who feel trapped in this high earning job. Its called the ‘golden handcuffs’ phenomenon. Try and find a dentist who still has a passion for what they do, as they will tend to keep more up to date with new developments in training and treatment.
‘How do I find the right dentist?’ can sometimes be a difficult one to answer. Your best bet is to
- Ask your trusted friends (the ones with nice smiles!) for recommendations,
- Shop around online, paying particular attention to smile galleries and patient testimonials,
- Read customer reviews on sites such as Google, Facebook and WOMO.com
- Phone the practice to get a feel for their level of customer service
- Attend for a consult, and see the practice for yourself!
If you have any recommendations for star clinicians in your area, feel free to leave a comment!