It can often be an anxious time when you move to a new area and are looking for a new doctor, dentist, hairdresser all those personal and health services you had in place and were comfortable with, before moving or before they left or retired. This article will give you a few tips on choosing a dentist right for you – the hairdresser is on your own head!!
Narrowing Down the Field.
One of the best ways to start narrowing the field down is to either ask your former dentist (they may just know someone) or ask around the people you come in contact with in your new environment. When asking these people, it is wise to establish whether they are regular attenders or just went once five years ago. The things you need to ascertain, is their competency and bedside manner. Not all people require, or expect, the same bedside manner, but a good health professional and practice staff, should be polite and willing to listen to your wants and needs. And they should be prepared to explain treatment in layman’s language. Your friends may be able to give you some insight in this area.
Give them a call.
Another important issue is to find out if it is customary to receive a treatment plan and costings, particularly when anything beyond a regular check-up and clean is being proposed. A simple telephone call to the practice receptionist can usually provide this information. The experience of the dentist is also a consideration and for most health professionals the first few years of practice is a development of the basic skills acquired at the training institutions. This is also a time when the dentist is deciding where they might focus their interest and skills in the future. A dentist might choose to limit some of the areas he treats (e.g. difficult extractions) and therefore, will refer you to a specialist, whereas another, may have a broader scope of treatment and be happy and competent enough to undertake this without referral. This can be important if you are making a call on price. A dentist who refers lots of patients may have apparently cheaper prices because they refer all the difficult cases to someone else.
The Yellow pages or the internet will generally give you a good guide these days of the range of treatments being undertaken by the individual practices. The web is also a good place to check out some important bonafides of the health professional being considered. A dentist needs to be registered with AHPRA to practice in Australia and if the dentist is not listed on this website, avoid using them! Registration with AHPRA also guarantees that every dentist is engaging in continuing education. Registration with AHPRA also requires dentists be covered by indemnity insurance, which enables compensation claims to be arbitrated and settled, if some inadvertent event or accident occurs. Being a member of the Australian Dental Association is generally a good indication the dentist has a greater commitment to the welfare, and direction of the profession, and a willingness to interact and learn from peers experiences.
Just a word of warning about patient driven rating websites. There are a few things to keep in mind. Most websites use only the patients opinion rather than data showing how well the treatment fitted the patients needs. In addition some websites may promote dentists who have paid rather than have a level playing field. So if you use the information from online reviews, use the information there as information that may or may not be accurate or complete and don’t rely on it entirely.
The ADA has been encouraging in recent years for practices to seek accreditation as safe, healthy and “best practice “environments and these voluntary certifications are usually displayed at the workplace or on their web sites. This does not mean, at this stage, those not accredited don’t meet the standards set by the ADA, but they just have not sought accreditation yet. Lastly, be willing to accept that you will be talked to about dental hygiene and prevention. As has always been the case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and if a dentist does not at least broach this subject with you and hold this as a foundational principle, then your best interests are not being considered, even if you think otherwise!