It often gets moved down the ‘to-do’ list until something goes wrong. Clutching the side of your throbbing mouth you pick the first dentist you can get an appointment with. Unfortunately this often leads to poor treatment and a shock when you get the bill.
Another approach is using the internet. Completely valid in this day and age. You go online, check out a few websites, look at photos of the dental surgery and staff (they look friendly, albeit stuck in a 1990’s time warp) and you read the blurb about the services they offer.
The only problem is that most of the websites look the same and read the same. And there are A LOT of dentists to choose from. Yawn. Did someone say coffee break?
So how do you stay focused, sift through all the options and find a great North Sydney dentist?
A lot of it is common sense, but some of the things to look are not so obvious and some things are insider knowledge.
Here is my guide to finding a great, affordable dentist: someone who does good quality dentistry and charges appropriately for the work they perform. It is an important decision and if you choose wisely your teeth and gums will be well cared for past the first visit.
- If you are moving interstate or into a new area ask your existing dentist if they can recommend a dentist at your new location. The world of dentistry is a small one and your dentist will probably know someone who they trained with or know someone in the area who is an excellent dentist.
- Ask the North Sydney dentist if they are a member of any dental organisationsIn Australia, the core dental body is the Australian Dental Association. Also look out for qualifications or memberships with specialist groups if you require specialised treatment, for example, dental implants.
Membership or participation in clinical groups. This demonstrates an on-going refinement of technique and knowledge in clinical skills beyond what is learnt at university. This is different to continuing education courses that don’t involve hands-on skill refinement.
3. Word of Mouth. It’s like finding a good doctor or hairdresser – ask your friends, family and colleagues if they know of a good dentist. However, only take recommendations if they have had work other than cleanings done. You may end up with a highly competent hygienist who works for an incompetent dentist.
4. Google the North Sydney dentist and look for patient reviews. A great way to refine your internet search is to look for dentists that have been reviewed. While this trend is popular with Australian-based accommodation and restaurant searches, it has been slower to take off off in the dental and medical fields. Look at reviews that relate to a personal story; this indicates greater authenticity. If it doesn’t feel real it probably isn’t.
5. Next step: visit the practice. After you pick a dentist and have your first appointment, ask yourself three questions:
- Was everything explained to me and was there justification for every procedure? My rule is that we don’t proceed until the patient understands and has talked through all of the options.
- Was the dentist wearing loupes (surgical telescopes that are worn like glasses)? In my opinion, no dentist should practice without them. It has nothing to do with poor eyesight. It is the magnification factor that lets you see better than 20/20. If you can’t see it, you can’t treat it.
- Did I feel comfortable? Trust your gut instinct; it is rarely wrong.
6. What do I pay for this great dentist? The saying ‘what you pay for is what you get’ rings true in dentistry. Finding a cheap, low quality dentist will cost you more in the long run. Sometimes even more in the short term if they do a patch job that needs to be repaired. A quality dentist at higher prices will save you money in the long term.
The overheads of dental treatments are high. So there is not a lot of room for discount, unless the dentist can discount other areas of the service delivery. Your goal should be to make sure you are paying fair market rate for your dental treatments.
If you feel that the price you were quoted is high, seek a second opinion. I am not advocating price shopping as a means to picking a dentist – this won’t guarantee good quality work. I am recommending that when you find a dentist you like, but their prices seem high, compare them to other practices in the local area. You may be surprised that this is the market rate for your local area.
When asking about treatment prices, stick to the four major dental treatments: cleaning; a crown; root canal; and a recall exam.
Let me know how you picked your North Sydney dentist.