As the vaccine rollout progresses and the country reopens, the demand for dental services has exploded. In that time, the “supply” of dentists has remained stagnant. Furthermore, Covid-19 related health and safety restrictions have reduced the number of patients a dentist can see. This means that the system is working slower, many dental practices are booked out, sometimes for several months. This is especially hard because research shows that oral health is important to overall health. With so many people struggling to find a good dentist, I thought I would explain just what you need to do to find one.
One of the most important elements in your search is finding a dentist that you can trust and who is open to a conversation with you about your oral teeth, your fears and your expectations. The human relationship is the heart of everything. A dentist must be someone honest and frank. Without these qualities, the relationship will break down because the dentist will, regardless of their intentions, fail to meet your expectations. Going to the dentist is not a passive activity, it is a form of engaging in a relationship. WIth the right relationship, you can tackle your oral health with the best available tools.
Unfortunately, we often do not know if what the dentist is saying is true or not. We are ignorant about the science and so our intuition is not always a reliable guide as to whether a dentist is honest and trustworthy. One way to bridge this gulf is to try and engage the dentist in a conversation, to try and understand their treatment recommendations so that it makes sense to you and you are aware of other options and why your dentist picked that particular option.
Look for a dentist within your home or work vicinity and that opens during convenient times for you.
If English isn’t your first language, consider what dentists are available who speak your language. Or, you may want to know if that dentist can make a translator available so that any technical vocabulary can be translated for you. A translator can help to build trust and assurance for a patient who may otherwise be skeptical or weary simply because of language barriers.
The American Dental Association represents over 160,000 dentists across the country. It is the foremost dental association in the United States and Puerto Rico. When you are looking for a dentist, you should give preference to dentists who are members of the association. Member dentists are obliged to ensure that they live by certain standards of practice, standards which ensure that patients receive high quality dental care. They have to consult patients about treatment options; do no harm; keep up-to-date with the science, technology and current innovations; give patients the very best dental care; be fair and open to people from all walks of life; and be honest and frank with their patients. These are all the ingredients of a good dentist, making membership of the association a good signal that you will be satisfied with your prosthodontist.