If you’d ever tried to find a new dentist it can be quite a mine field. Patients at our dental practice in Oxford often ask questions so we thought it would be good to summarise some of those questions in an article to help you find the best dentist in your local area.
If you’re looking for a new dentist you will most likely be either because you are dissatisfied with your current dentist or have a particular dental issue which you need to resolve in a short period of time, either of those situations can be quite stressful, hence writing this article.
Are you taking all new patients.
It seems quite obvious to ask this question, the reality is that most dental practices will be taking on new patients but not all will be able to take on new NHS patients. NHS contracts have a specific number UDAs (units of dental activity) this needs to be carefully managed by the NHS dentist to ensure they have enough UDAs to go round all patients that need them. Private dentists on the other hand are usually limited in the number of patients they can see purely by the hours in the day and the length of time they wish to spend with each new patient.
What if I am anxious of the dentist.
Most people admit to having some kind of anxiety about going to the dentist. If this extends beyond this into a fear of phobia it’s always worth mentioning this to the dentist beforehand.
Many dental practices will have special protocols to help deal with anxious nervous patients, some dentists also offer dental sedation which can help you drift off into your own world during treatment.
Always mention any fear or anxiety about going to the dentist to the receptionist when you initially call, they can then put your mind at rest and modified their procedures if need be to help you relax.
do you have any areas of special interest?
Some dentists, whilst being fully trained in general dental procedures will undertake further training in more specialised areas of dentistry. Some dentists take a Masters level degree in one of the specialist areas, these specialist areas are regulated by the General Dental Council in the UK.
Not all dentists decide to take this Masters level education but do however attend many ongoing and high quality training courses, in particular areas such as cosmetic dentistry or dental implants. If you have a particular concern which you would like addressed by your dentist it’s worth asking them if they have a special interest in or specialism in that particular area.
What patient reviews do you have.
Knowing that you are seeing a dentist that has happy patients will always be helpful at setting your mind at rest. If the dentist doesn’t clearly display their reviews and testimonials on their website don’t be afraid to ask. Any good dental practice will keep a record of these testimonials and have them freely available whenever you wish.
can I pay by credit card.
If you have a particular means by which she would like to pay always remember to ask before treatment. Credit cards and debit cards are taken by most dental practices now but it’s good to ask just to be sure.
do you have a membership scheme.
It might sound odd being a member of a dental practice, it’s hardly like being a member of a local gym! However, membership of a dental practice will often give you travel insurance, discounted rates for treatment and access to emergency dentistry which is not available to non-members. Membership at a dental practice can begin from approximately £12 per month.
Do you have a payment plan available?
Payment plans can be extremely useful for expensive treatments. Some dental implant and orthodontic or restorative treatments can run into many thousands of pounds so having a payment plan facility can make things more affordable on a monthly basis. Many dentists offer either payment plans or finance.
Will I have all recommendations in writing before going ahead?
This is an extremely important question to ask. No one wants to be taken by surprise with treatments they weren’t expecting or costs they hadn’t budgeted for. Your dentist should always give you a written treatment plan of exactly what is required prior to beginning treatment. The treatment plan should include the treatment specific to you, exactly what will happen and all costs involved.
What is your cancellation policy?
Unfortunately it is sometimes necessary to cancel appointments at the last minute. Being aware in advance of what your dentist cancellation policy is can save heartache and upset. Most dental practices will have a 24-hour cancellation policy, after this time many practices will charge if appointments are cancelled without very good cause.
We hope you have found this article useful in discovering what questions to ask when looking for a new dentist. Do let us know of any other questions you can think of…
This post has been written by Dr Ajay Murgai, he is a highly experienced General and Cosmetic Dental Surgeon. Dr Ajay runs clinics in Hertfordshire, South Oxfordshire and Harley Street, and carries out a full spectrum of treatments from Aesthetic Dentistry to routine examinations.