Choosing Your Dental Team
Many times, the choice of a dentist is based on proximity - the one whose office is closest to either home or work 'wins'. Or, if the office is on the way from one to the other, then it's even more of an incentive to go there. Or, if there's an emergency dental situation, then any dentist will do as long as they can see you now.
And while we understand that the convenience of it really makes a difference, the quality of the dentist shouldn't be overlooked. So, here is our list of qualities that someone should look for when searching for a new dentist:
1) Loves Learning
We can't really prove it, but there is a difference between the dentists who take CE (continuing education) courses just for the sake of renewing their licenses and those who actually enjoy them. The latter category of dentists allow for advancement and improvement of their existing techniques and really, who wouldn't want to go to someone who is knowledgeable and up-to-date?
2) Small Hands
Ok, yeah - this one sounds a little weird, but hear us out. One of the more frequent comments we get regarding Dr. Shirley is that, "I can barely feel when she's working in my mouth!" - and one of the reasons for this is because she has small agile hands. She also does not rest or anchor her hand on patients while working in their mouths (which can really sometimes feel like an actual anchor - AmIRite?!)
3) Do they take the time to explain the procedures you are recommended?
From the initial examination appointment, remember to ask yourself if you understood everything that has happened. It's not uncommon for a dentist to say, "Hmm, yes...looks like you'll need a crown." and then book you back for another day.
If you've ever had a crown before, perhaps you already know what to expect and don't need an explanation. If you've never had one, the doctor should take the time to explain why you need it, what it entails and be able to answer any questions that you have.
4) Do they have good teeth themselves?
This might seem like a shallow take on things - but if the dentist has nice teeth, then you are much more certain that they follow their own advice! Should you trust the guy selling you a Total Smile Makeover when they themselves have chipped, discoloured, crooked teeth with bad breath and...wait...is that a missing tooth in the back? Probably not.
5) Does the team have nice teeth?
Again, you're looking for people who practice what they preach.
You're also potentially looking to see how well the dental owners treat their team members. And you might ask, 'Does it matter?' Well, it shows that the dentists have pride in their work and are willing to invest in a person when they become a staffer - even with the inherent risk of that team member leaving to pursue other opportunities. But make sure to ask them if their dental treatment was done by one of the in-house practitioners!
6) Does their personality mesh with yours?
We can be more or less certain that everyone would want a knowledgable dentist! But beyond that characteristic, you may want to look for someone with similar values as yourself.
For example, our office aims for quality and integrity in everything that we do - we offer Comprehensive Dental Care with a focus on Preventative Care. We look at the entire mouth, plan treatment for overall oral health and start doing it when you're ready - all the while, with both upper and lower dental arches in mind - as well as the gums.
Piecemeal dentistry is seeing one problem, fixing it, seeing another problem, fixing it - almost as if they were isolated issues. Education in how to prevent these issues may never come up. Instruction on how to keep these existing problems from getting worse may also never come up.
Unfortunately, by doing single patch-ups, it could lead to bigger problems down the road - for example, bite issues. That is, because these 'quick fixes' were done without taking into consideration all the other teeth, you might get an area where the teeth don't touch when biting (as an example). In turn, someone with this piecemeal mindset may not agree with our dental office's comprehensive practices.
7) Extensively Trained
While this sort of ties in with #1 (Love learning), it might be worth your while to look for a dentist who is adept at many different procedures - you want a 'thinker' who is also a 'doer'. We're a one-stop shop for all-things dentistry and only on occasion, do we refer out. We are trained and well-versed with crowns, implants, Invisalign®, traditional braces, dentures, etc.
That means, if you need different procedures, you're not going to be travelling between 10 different specialists for treatments and then making sure that every office has the most up-to-date report on you. We can do most of it in-house!
We even have a dental lab, so sometimes we don't even need to rely on a third party company. What this also means is that our quality control is maintained to the high ALFIE Dentistry standard. The turnover rate for your dental appliances may also be faster.
We mentioned this in our last article on choosing the right dentist - but it's way worth mentioning again. When choosing a new dentist, it's a good idea to pick one working with digital dentistry. Digitization of our field has lead to leaps and bounds in how we can diagnose and treat - that we often wonder why some practitioners are holding on to old technology like those tiny x-ray films or making clients gag with the old putty-and-tray way of making impressions.
The depth at which we can study a case is amplified because we can zoom into digital x-rays without much loss of quality - this means early detection that can be treated before they become large problems. And the second big seller is that it makes things more comfortable for the patient - you can have a handheld scanning wand to make an impression of your teeth, or do the awkward putty way.