How to Choose a Dentist

Choosing a dentist for most people is as hard as finding a mechanic you can

Choosing a dentist for most people is as hard as finding a mechanic you can trust. Let’s face it we know less about what’s best for our teeth than how to look after our vehicles. So, how do you find a trustworthy, first rate dentist? How do you know that you really need what is being recommended? How do you know the suggested procedure will fix the problem? Where does necessary dental care end and over-servicing begin? Finding the answers can be an extremely difficult task, especially for those of us traumatized in the past by inept or unnecessary dental care. How many times have we heard the expression ‘my dentist is simply the best’ yet wonder why we never go and see them?

We asked Dr. Sherly Snyman, Founder of The Whole Tooth Dental Surgery in Surry Hills, how do you choose the right dentist?

“At the base of everything is trust”, she says, “It’s important to establish a doctor -patient relationship based on trust, which then inspires confidence. There is no better client than one referred by a friend, as the process of trust is already implied in the relationship between the referrer and the referee! The friend may not be qualified to judge just how good a dentist is, but they have gained a level of trust based on their own experience.” According to Sherly, trust is a very big step and can take quite a while to establish, but once it is there, going to a dentist is not the dreaded experience it once was.

So then how does a patient learn to trust a dentist?

Here are some basic but important criteria that every patient should look out for:

o Does the dentist do continuing education;

o Is the surgery practice well equipped with the latest equipment such as loops (special magnifying glasses);

o Does the practice have hygienists and good sterilization techniques;

o Are dental procedures well explained;

o Does the surgery look and feel comfortable;

o Is the surgery well connected with other dental specialists such as orthopedic surgeons and the like;

o Are there several dentists at the practice.

A good dentist is likely to address all of the above through a good web site. From the comfort of your own home you can navigate the dental websites you have ‘Googled’ beginning with dentists in your local area.

If the answers to your questions are not found at the first dentist’s website, find another until you’re satisfied they are worth calling.

In today’s modern dental practice expect digital x-rays that emit minimal radiation; lasers that enable pinpoint procedures on both soft and hard tissue; ‘Heal-Ozone’ machines that help retard decay; and of course loops or microscopic above chair tools, without which dentists would not be anywhere near as accurate as they should be.

Together with the latest sterilization techniques, there is no excuse for poor hygiene procedures. Dentists should practice what is commonly referred to as “barrier” dentistry. That is, changing the covering of all contact surfaces (with clear film) and wearing appropriate gloves and masks and also sterilizing all equipment after each use.

Good dentists also share the belief that healthy gums come even before healthy teeth – enter the hygienist, the experts in proactive dental maintenance and prevention. In the same way hygienists are experts in the field of hygiene, working closely with dental specialists is extremely important as well. Referring a patient to an expert when root canal therapy or oral surgery is required ensures the procedure is performed by those who do nothing else.

Dentistry is a service orientated business. Clients have every right to expect to be seen on time, to be treated with courtesy, compassion and empathy. Choose a practice that believes it has a good team, friendly, professional, compassionate, but above all else devoted. The same goes for the environment. A patient should feel instinctively comfortable not only with the dentists and their staff, but also with the ambiance and surroundings!

Good dentists should have as their highest goal after initial treatment the restoration of gums and teeth to their optimum function. Then, with the patient’s help, maintain that healthy mouth and gums with regular hygienic checks. A motivated and pro-active patient who regularly visits a dentist and keeps healthy teeth and gums avoids expensive dental remediation in the future!

So regular check ups and cleanings seem like commonsense to me!