Finding a new, local dentist can feel like an overwhelming task. Sometimes it seems like there are more dentists to choose from than there are cavities in America. If you don’t have the luxury of making another appointment at the one you went to as a kid, where can you start?
Thankfully, there are a few extremely handy tools today that weren’t around a generation ago; it’s actually easier than ever to find the right, local dentist in your area. You can start with large-scale local dentist finders like 1800dentist.com or the Find a Location tab on carecredit.com; after you have your pool of candidates, try some of the techniques outlined below to narrow down your search to find the right local dentist for you.
Local Dentist Filter #1: Money
No, it’s not all about money; it’s about your oral health. But money–or lack thereof–can make it impossible to get into a local dentist, or at least the one you’d like to go to. Besides, all else being equal, would you rather have perfect teeth and more money or perfect teeth and less money?
If you have dental insurance, of course you can use the provider search on your insurance company’s website to find out who’s in-network. Call the number on the back of your insurance card if you can’t find or don’t feel comfortable with such a self-serve tool.
Otherwise, when you call around to vet local dentists, ask them what they charge for the services you anticipate needing. You can also ask if they take Care Credit if you’ll need some help paying out of pocket.
Local Dentist Filter #2: Friends’ Experiences
Don’t overlook the immense helpfulness of asking your friends about their recent experiences with local dentists. Trustworthy review sites like Yelp are helpful but nothing can compare to getting a thoughtful answer to an important question from someone you trust.
Local Dentist Filter #3: Your Gut
Yes, you can use your gut to find your mouth doctor. After you’ve narrowed your search to, say, three local dentists who are in-network for you or at least affordable and gathered whatever input you can from trusted friends, it’s time to simply see how you feel about this local dentist versus that one. Whose office feel the best-run? Where are the friendliest front-desk staff? Which dentist comes across as the most knowledgeable? Which made you feel most comfortable?
How to Find Your Local Dentist
Nobody loves finding their next local dentist–but the process doesn’t have to be like pulling teeth. Since the payment situation can stop the whole thing in its tracks, it’s best to start there–who’s in-network, or at least who can you afford? After that, find something out about the experience of using each local dentist on your list. Finally, as you continue learning about candidates and crossing more off, it will ultimately be about which local dentist feels like the best for you.