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How Not to Find a Good Dentist: 6 Warning Signs to Watch Out For

November 12th, 2011

find-good-dentist-information.jpgMost dentists are competent professionals who want nothing more than to do the best possible job for their patients. Unfortunately, there are some bad apples out there. A bad dentist can cause you months or even years of pain, not to mention the money you’ll have to spend to correct a bad dentist’s work. Here are six warning signs to look for when trying to find a good dentist. Keep alert for them and you’ll be able to screen out the quacks and scam artists.

Warning Sign #1: Bad Community Reviews

Your quest to find a good time to starts before you ever pick up the phone to make an appointment. The first thing you need to do is check community reviews on web sites such as Yahoo Local or healthgrades.com. One bad review doesn’t necessarily mean anything; sometimes disgruntled customers post bad reviews as a means of revenge. Two or more reviews saying the same thing, however, are worth taking seriously. Also, if you know someone who has gone to the dentist you’re considering, ask him or her about the overall experience.

Warning Sign #2: Poor Staff Attitude

Another thing to consider when you’re trying to find a good dentist is staff attitude. Professionalism and competence starts at the top. If a dentist’s staff is rude or inattentive, it’s because he either does not understand the value of first impressions or simply does not care enough to train his staff properly. To judge staff attitude, call the office and ask a question that you can easily find out the answer to, such as the office location or hours. If staff does not answer the phone within three rings, puts you on hold for a long period of time, or acts like it’s an imposition to talk to you, you need to keep looking.

Warning Sign #3: Visible Dirt in the Waiting Room, Restrooms, or Other Publicly Visible Areas

A huge warning sign, and one too many people ignore, is visible dirt in a dentist office waiting room, restrooms, or other publicly visible areas. Visible dirt shows improper attention to hygiene, lack of attention to detail, and/or a willingness to cut corners. If the office cannot be bothered to clean up areas they let you see, there is no way you can be sure they’re cleaning and sanitizing the dental equipment they are going to use on your mouth.

Warning Sign #4: Secretive Policies

Once you’ve evaluated a dentist’s community reputation, the professionalism of his staff, and how clean he keeps his office, look at his policies. As a general rule, a good dentist will have nothing to hide. Parents of minor children and family members of adult patients should always be welcome in treatment areas. If they’re not, there’s a reason the dentist does not want you watching what he’s doing. Though rare, local news outlets have reported practices such a strapping children to boards or otherwise tying them down, leaving bruises and psychological scars.

Warning Sign #5: Poor Bedside Manner

Don’t discount the role of bedside manner when trying to find a good a good dentist. Dentists are medical care providers, and as such, should present themselves as competent and compassionate professionals. Avoid dentists who seem nervous, confused, or rushed. Rudeness or general disrespect is an even bigger red flag. Don’t be afraid to stand up, take off a dental bib, and walk out of the treatment area. Poor dental work can cause dangerous infections, and your health is worth a few minutes of embarrassment.

Warning Sign #6: Focus on Cosmetic Issues

In industrialized countries, the rate of dental disease has dropped due to inexpensive toothpastes, healthier diets, and better home care. As a result, more dentists are using cosmetic procedures such as tooth whitening to prop up their bottom lines. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that. Many people are genuinely concerned about how their teeth look. If, however, you go in for a cavity or broken tooth and the dentist spends the majority of his time with you trying to sell you veneers or other cosmetic services, something is wrong. A dentist should address your primary concern, not act like a salesman.

This article was supplied by M.K. Greenwood from Constant Content.

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