Trying to pick the best dental office for your family is not an easy task. In fact, most people don’t want to do it or even know how. When a good office is found, people often stay there for years and recommend their friends and family. What they really want is to place their trust in a reliable, dependable and just stay there and not have to choose another one.
But how does one go about picking a good one? Well, in this article, we will discuss the various attributes and things to look for. Then and only then can one make a proper decision. Otherwise, one may be left with choosing an office based on what they call heuristics – quick deciding factors like location or who has the flashiest marketing. Those attributes are not always the best way to decide and can lead one to wasting their time and money.
You can break the task of picking a dental office into 6 main areas to keep it simple:
Does the dental office listen to you?
When you call them or email them, do they respond right away? And when they do respond, are they friendly and kind.
Not just that though. Here’s what differentiates an ok office from a great one. Do they actually listen to you on the phone. Are they hearing your concern and addressing it according to your needs?
And when they do address you, do they guide you? Too many offices will just let the phone go quiet while letting the person on the other line figure out what to say next. This is not correct! It’s up to the office to guide the patient on the phone as to the next steps. What kind of appointment do you need? For how long? How should it be setup? How complicated will it be and what would the cost be approximately?
What do other patients say?
Why does it matter you ask? It matters a whole lot. Think about it. To find out where to place your trust, sometimes it depends on asking other people you trust that have been there. Bonus points if they have been there for years and really understand what it’s like to be a part of that dental office’s so called “family”.
So you can ask your friends and family for input on where they go, that is unless you have a specialized need such as cosmetic or restorative treatment.
In the case where you need special treatment, there are 2 options for you. A) The first is to look at trusted online reviews like the ones from Google. Scour through those reviews and try to figure out if any of them have had the same treatment as you and see what they say. Then try to use your judgement as to whether or not the reviews are genuine. You can always tell if what the people are writing are straight from their heart or fictional.
The second option is a bit more for the adventurous but you will be rewarded for your bravery. Simply ask the dental office if you can contact a few people who have had that treatment in the past. Then the office can go about and contact those patients to see if they would be willing to share their experience. Not only does that show lots of trust but think about it, if the dentist is confident in their ability, they will let you talk to their patients all day (if the patient is of course willing and open to discuss it).
Finally, as a little tip…where do dental specialists go? Specialists such as endodontists see the result of general dentists in their office and typically choose to go to one that they deem the most skilled.
Do they cater to your financial needs?
Your financial needs can be broken down into 2 main areas: insurance and payment plans. Most dental offices take your insurance plan but increasingly, they are doing something called “non-assignment”. Non-assignment means that the office might submit your treatment to your insurance provider electronically, but you have to pay for the appointment. Your insurance provider then typically refunds you the portion they pay in a day to a few days at most. If you pay by credit card then you likely won’t even notice it. Now, it is easier on the patient to just pay the difference at the end of the appointment, but sometimes insurance providers aren’t very cooperative and will only deal with the patient directly. Coupled with increasingly more and more complicated insurance plans, some offices just opt out of doing it directly.
Sometimes, depending on your circumstances, they can make an exception.
For payment plans, this is more important if you don’t have dental insurance at all or if you are getting a complicated treatment done. The high up front cost of those treatments might deter some people even though medically it might be necessary for them, especially if they want to keep their teeth later down the road.
Ask the office if they have dental payment plans and the terms around them. There are lots of options these days and they might be willing to discuss it with you.
Do they cater to dental anxiety?
A lot of people have dental anxiety. That is, fear or nervousness at the dentist. It is very natural because of the invasive nature of dentistry – they are going in your mouth to do work, sometimes it hurts and often it may be uncomfortable…ah the things we put up with to stay in health!
Also, if you have a strong gag reflex, this is also a part of the fear of the dentist.
Ask the office if they have anything or recommend anything for that. Or you might want to speak to them privately in the office, for example with a treatment coordinator or office manager if the dentist isn’t available. They can take the time to explain the procedures and show you your options. It’s important that they take the time to allay your fears. If they don’t care to spend the time to do that, perhaps that office isn’t for you.
The solutions for dental anxiety, gag reflexes and such can include everything from laughing gas, bringing in your own music, oral conscious sedation (just a pill to stay relaxed) to full anaesthesia where you go right to sleep for the full appointment and won’t remember anything from it. Full sedation requires a special setup in the office with an anesthesiologist and is not available in every office.
Do they cater to your family needs?
If you have children, see if they have any special consideration for them. Do they have a play area, do they offer chair rides for ages 3 and up? Do they do a free fluoride treatment for young kids or any special offer. It’s important they ease into the child’s experience at the dentist because everyone knows it’s not the easiest thing especially if the child is not used to having someone poking around in their mouth.
A first appointment shouldn’t be a full exam and x-rays if they are little. A first appointment is typically a meet and greet and teeth counting and a chair ride and getting a little toy at the end! It should be fun for them and educational so they will learn to love coming to the office for years and years.
Are they kind and have great relationships?
Many patients often form very strong relationships with their dental offices. Some people really gravitate to the front desk, or the hygienist or the dentist. Some attend social functions with them. Some get married! They are people after all and it’s important that the dental office understands relationships enough to nurture them.
It is often said that medical establishments should be like “stern, loving parents” in other words, help us overcome our fears, guide us on the path to health but also they know what’s best for us long term (there are situations where dental offices are financially motivated or don’t care but through these tips above you can weed those out easily).
What’s really important here is long term commitments. How many patients have stayed for decades and referred their family and friends? That is the ultimate gesture of trust.
Using the above tips, you can now feel more comfortable picking the right dental office for you and your family and not necessarily be persuaded by simple factors like location and how flashy their marketing is. It’s about your health and life after all.
You should speak with a dentist at Dr. Bobby Brown and Associates to understand what kind of needs you and your family have.
If you are in pain, or feel discomfort, or just want free, friendly advice, you must make an effort to see your dentist right away.
The Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO) offers a way to pick a dentist near you. To read more,click here.
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Dr. Bobby Brown and Associates
Address: 33 City Centre Dr #145, Mississauga, ON L5B 2N5
Phone: (905) 267-4022
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