Fun fact: almost 50% of dental patients are scared of dentists. Another fun fact: when it comes to finding best Los Angles dentist, chances are you spend a lot more time worrying about finding best dentist for your family rather than yourself. After all, you are strong enough to soldier through an occasional dental discomfort, right? If this sounds like you, you are not alone. In a recent survey, nearly a third of Los Angeles residents who don’t have a permanent dentist, said they didn’t think they needed one.
The truth is, we all do. Not only do people who go to a dental office regularly receive better overall care and have better overall dental health (not to mention, beautiful teeth), but it’s often easier for them to get an appointment on short notice – helpful for reassurance on day-to-day dental issues, and especially crucial if you should ever find yourself in a dental emergency. Your mission is to locate best Los Angeles dentist with great attitude, education, and experience; convenient office with organized, friendly office staff; and, most of all, ability to work well with you whether you are discussing a treatment or, perhaps, a payment plan. Sounds like #missionimpossible? Not at all, and here’s how.
Go to Your Networks
Your social networks, that is. Start by asking your friends and family (and any health professionals you already have relationship with and like) for the names of their favorite Los Angeles dental providers. This method may seem unscientific, but in one recent survey, patients ranked getting a recommendation from family or friends as the most valuable way to choose a good local dentist.
If your friends can’t give you any good leads, take a look at social media and consumer rating web sites like Facebook, Google+, Yelp, or Angie’s List. What you really should be looking for are user reviews that give Los Angeles dentists four to five stars. Los Angeles dentists can’t pay to alter or remove their reviews, although often it is hard to tell what the reviewer’s relationship is to the doctor and doctors can get high ratings with just a few responses. So, in many cases, it’s a numbers game: the more reviews Los Angeles dental office has and the more consistent they are, the more likely you are to find a great dentist. Consider also checking online healthcare provider rating sites, like healthgrades.com, vitals.com, or zocdoc.com.
Just keep in mind that opinions from others may be a good gauge of a dentist’s bedside manner (which is indeed important), but not necessarily a way to measure his or her dental expertise. Friends who have had only an exam, cleaning, or teeth whitening, may not have as good a sense of their dentists medical competence, so see if you can ask someone who’s had serious dental issues. If they felt well served by the dentist, that’s a more reliable bet.
Consider Their Credentials
There’s no need to limit yourself to dentists who graduated from the oldest or fanciest dental schools around, especially since many dental schools’ names do not mean much to anyone who is not a dentist. What matters more is what kind of dental doctor they are: DDS, DMD, or DDO.The DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) and DMD (Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry or Doctor of Dental Medicine) are very similar degrees and dentists who have a DMD or DDS degrees have similar education, although a DDS degree may be preferable, as these Los Angeles dentists are more likely to be able to perform more dental procedures in-office without referring you out, thus saving you time and money.
Generally, three or more years of undergraduate education plus four years of dental school is required to graduate and become a general dentist. Upon completion of their training, Los Angeles dentists must pass both a rigorous national written exam and a California clinical licensing exam in order to practice. In order to keep their licenses, they must meet continuing education requirements for the remainder of their professional careers, so that they may stay up to date on the latest scientific and clinical developments. DDO (Diploma in Dental Orthopaedics) is a somewhat newer degree and is essentially an orthodontic diploma. Additional post-graduate training is required to become a dental specialist, such as an orthodontist, periodontist, endodontist, or oral and maxillofacial surgeon. So if you have a more complicated dental case, you may want to see a specialist or your general dentist will refer you to one.
Finally, dentists who are board-certified, affiliated with dental schools or hospitals, members of ADA, and contribute to their profession generally do better in terms of safety and patient outcomes than those who are or do not.
Vet the Office and Staff
You can find out some key details about a new dentist just by calling her or his office. Start with how you’re greeted. If the receptionist treats you poorly, it may be a sign that the practice isn’t caring or respectful of patients in general. If the doctors and their staff are nice and professional, on the other hand, you will know that she runs a practice where patients are treated with respect.
It is also important to pick an office that is conveniently located within 10 miles from your home/office or near public transportation. Finally, make sure that the new dental office you are thinking of choosing is open when you need them and that they can work with your schedule or get you in quickly if you have an emergency. Most Los Angeles dental offices are not open on weekends, but if you have a dental emergency, your pain does not wait.
Trust Your Feeling
Once you’re finally face-to-face with your perspective Los Angeles dentist, do a gut feeling check. Do you feel comfortable? Your health will benefit if you do: a recent study that patients who had empathetic, engaged doctor felt more supported and were better able to take charge of their own well-being. You may not get more than half an hour for your first appointment and dental exam, but all you need is a few minutes to tell if there is a match.
Some experts recommend that you bring three questions about your dental issues, big or small, to your first appointment. As the doctor answers your queries, take notice: does he or she have a pleasant bedside manner; does he or she explain things well; does he or she consult with you and give you time to ask follow-up questions? A Los Angeles dentist who does these things – and makes you feel welcome and comfortable – just might be your perfect match.