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10 Questions to Ask a New Dentist on Your First Visit

Whether you changed insurance, changed cities, or just need a change, finding a new dentist that is a good fit for you and your family can be stressful. You don’t want a dentist who stresses you out; you want one who is open and honest and willing to answer your questions. When you schedule an appointment, ask the receptionist if the dentist will have enough time to answer your questions or if you will have to schedule a separate consultation beforehand. When you do arrive, here are ten great questions to ask a new dentist to get a feel for whether or not they are the right practitioner for you.

#1. What Is Your Area of Expertise?

Different dentists often specialize in different areas of dentistry. If you are most concerned with preventative dentistry, you don’t need to see a dentist who specializes in cosmetic dentistry. If you are looking for a general dentist, be sure to research their specialty practice areas and find out about any special certifications he or she holds.

#2. How Does Your Scheduling Work?

Some dental practices require you to book weeks or even months in advance, while others can see you within a few days. Some dentists actually leave slots open during the week in order to accommodate certain last minute needs, like whitening, cleanings, or emergencies. Also, you want to make sure their hours are within the realm of convenience for you and your family. If you can’t get off of work on the days that your preferred dentist is on the premises, and they offer no hours when you are not at work, then you may need to find a different dentist.

#3. How Well Can You Handle Emergencies?

This is an important follow-up to the previous question. If your new dentist requires booking very far out in advance, they may not be able to handle emergency dental care cases. Others ensure that they can see you as quickly as possible in case of a dental emergency, even going so far as to having a dentist on call and a message forwarding system, so you can still get in touch with a dentist even after hours. Make sure your new dentist can handle these types of situations in a timely manner.

#4. Do You Take My Insurance? Do You Offer Any Financing or Discount Plans?

Not every dentist accepts every dental insurance plan, and not everyone has dental insurance. Many dental practices offer financing or discount plans to either ease the burden of what insurance doesn’t cover or take the place of insurance if you don’t have any. Many offer different specials as well, such as new patient deals, free second opinions, and other promotions. Ask your new dentist any questions you might have about what financial options they offer to determine if they will help your mouth without hurting your wallet.

#5. Will (My Family and) I Always Be Working with You? Or Do You Have Colleagues that Rotate?

If it is important to you to have consistency and see the same dentist every time, this is a crucial question to ask. If you are uncomfortable seeing multiple dentists, make this clear and see if the practice is willing to accommodate your preferences.

#6. What If You Are Sick or Out of Town?

If a dental emergency arises or if the dentist is sick or had to leave for an emergency, you’ll want to know what the dental practice’s policy is for such situations. Do they call you to let you know? Do they have close, trusted colleagues on staff to take over in these circumstances? Will they reschedule you within a timely manner? Will they honor your preferences? These are all important things to know when deciding if they are the right dentist for you.

#7. What’s Your Policy on Whitening?

Many dentists require dental exams before offering any sort of whitening treatment or advice since whitening can increase tooth sensitivity, especially if your teeth and gums are not already healthy. Also, you will want to know what sort of whitening products and programs they offer. Some dentists offer in-office whitening treatments that are stronger and quicker. Others offer take-home whitening products that are specially made for your specific needs. Some offer both. See what sort of options your new dentist has and if they line up with your preferences.

#8. How Often Do You Require X-Rays to Be Taken?

Diagnosing dental issues without x-rays is difficult, but having dental x-rays taken every visit can certainly concern many people due to the radiation exposure, even with the advanced, computerized x-rays of today. Ask about the type of x-rays your dentist uses, how often they want to take x-rays, and what the benefits and risks are with their x-ray systems.

#9. How Are You With Pediatric Dentistry?

Treating baby teeth and treating adult teeth aren’t necessarily the same, and children should be approached differently in dentistry. If you have young children, you’ll want to know how well-versed your prospective new dentist is in handling young children and pediatric dentistry. How do they alleviate dental anxiety in children? Do they offer any special options for children, such as flavored fluoride treatments or end-of-visit gift bags?

#10. How Do You Address Dental Anxiety in Adults?

Plenty of adults experience dental anxiety, whether it is due to a bad experience as a child, a dislike of certain sounds associated with dentistry (i.e. scraping off tartar), or some other reason. Regardless, you should know how your dentist handles these situations. Do they offer any sedation options to counteract anxiety? What sort of distractions do they have, like television or music? Do they have tips for mentally preparing yourself and helping you relax during the visit? Any good dentist will want you to feel comfortable, so this question could put you at quite a bit of ease.

Looking for a New Dentist? We’re Ready to Answer Your Questions!

If you’re looking for a new dentist in Pennsylvania, feel free to schedule an appointment with one of our numerous dental teams throughout the area. Find a convenient location near you and give us a call or contact us by filling out this short online form. We’d be happy to be your new dentist and answer these and any other questions you may have.

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