How Do I Choose the Right Dentist?
When it comes to choosing your family dentist, there are many factors to consider. First for most families, is budget, although quality of care may rank higher. Location is very important for some families, while others are willing to drive long distances for dentists they trust. Reputation plays a role, as does experience and expertise. But when push comes to shove, trust is probably the most important factor when choosing your family dentist.
Most people don't even consider the factors most important to them when choosing a dentist because they have been fooled into thinking they have “dental insurance.” In reality there is no such thing as dental insurance. Insurance is designed to protect an individual from tragic or costly events that only happen to a few people in the group. Everyone pays until they hit their deductible, and then the few people in the group that exceed their deductible let the insurance company pay the rest.
With dental insurance, it's just the opposite. Everyone pays until they hit their maximum for the year, then the insurance company stops paying and the patients pay the rest. The only one being insured against a costly event is the insurance company itself.
Since most families don't understand this concept, they routinely select a dentist who is on their “insurance” plan because they think they will get more value. While this might be true up to their maximum, they risk getting a dentist who signed up for the plan because that is the only way he or she could get patients. If cost is the primary concern, then this tactic may work well for you.
If location is the primary concern, then it makes sense to go to an online review website such as Angie's List or DrOogle and read reviews of the dentists closest to your home or work. Word of mouth is still most reliable, but a review website that does not allow dentists to pay for high ratings is a close second.
If reputation or expertise is most important to you, reviews on the web are still your best bet, since most reviews will include some information on the dentist or the practice. Of course, there is still no way to determine if you can trust any particular dentist from website reviews or even word of mouth.
In the end, you will have to meet the dentist face-to-face and determine if he or she offers the best mix of price, service, and trust you are looking for. There is no right or wrong answer here until you as an individual determine what factors are most important to you. Just make sure that you are the one determining what factors are important to you, not your so called “insurance” company.