Whether it’s because you need a teeth cleaning or you are having problems with your teeth, it is important to know how to find a good local dentist. A simple online search for dentists in Houston can bring up dozens of results, but how do you find the one that is right for you? By doing a little research up front, you can be more confident that your choice in a good local Houston dentist is the right one.
Although it may be tempting, do not skip this investment of time. Your smile will thank you for it!
Why Going to the Dentist Is Important
Most people do not realize that their dental health can be a key indicator of their overall health. In other words, some of the conditions taking place inside a person’s mouth may actually impact other parts of the body or vice versa.
The mouth is the primary entryway to the body’s respiratory and digestive systems. This can pose a risk because billions of bacteria live inside the mouth, and not all of them are harmless. A simple way to keep some of these bacteria in check is to perform good dental hygiene daily in the form of regular brushing and flossing. A professional dental cleaning every six months is key in both managing bacteria in the mouth and identifying a developing problem.
Without these efforts, bacteria in the mouth could cause tooth decay, gum disease, and more. There is ongoing research to define how poor dental health may contribute to serious conditions and diseases such as cardiovascular disease and endocarditis. On the flip side, patients who have preexisting conditions such as osteoporosis or diabetes may find that these conditions could contribute to poor dental health.
The bottom line is that your oral health is worth taking care of, but first it is necessary to understand how to find a good local dentist so they can help you do just that.
How to Find a Good Local Houston Dentist
Part of ensuring that it is easier to keep up with regular dental visits is knowing how to find a good local dentist. Although you may know a great dentist that is forty-five minutes away from your work or home, that distance could become an obstacle to good dental health if the practice is too far out of the way.
For this reason, one of the first determinants in finding a good local dentist should be defining the parameters of what local means to you. It may mean that the dentist’s office is close to work so that you can easily go on your lunch break. For those with young children, it is usually more convenient to have a dentist office that is close to the home and the child’s school.
With this primary consideration of choosing a local dentist already in play, here are three other factors to consider:
- Ask for recommendations. Whether it is a friend from the gym, a work colleague, or social media connections, do a quick poll of nearby family and friends on whether they like their current dentist and would recommend them. If that individual has good dental health and is happy with the care they receive from their provider, add their dentist to your list of potential candidates to research.
- Look for online reviews. In addition to asking for recommendations, it is wise to take a look at online reviews. Reviews can run the gamut, so it is important to notice the overall tone of the reviews rather than focusing on just one or two individual reviews. There can be power in hearing what current and past patients have to say about a practice you are considering.
- Confirm credentials. As simple as it may sound, it is still vitally important to confirm that a dentist is board certified and licensed to practice in the state. These two factors should be nonnegotiable when choosing a quality dentist and can often be verified by looking it up online.
At this point, a list of potential dentists could include a dozen or so possibilities, so it is necessary to narrow down the field a little further. With the above considerations already verified, the next step is to compare and contrast contenders.
A good place to start this process is by visiting the website for each of the practices that made your final cut. Most dental offices will have an extensive amount of information about their staff and their practice online. From learning about what kinds of dentistry they offer to the types of specific services provided to answers to common FAQs, the website can be a treasure trove of helpful information. Whatever answers cannot be found there can be brought up with the dental practice directly.
Getting answers to the following questions should make it easier to find the best dentist for you:
- How far is the dentist’s office from my home? This is key information to know if you are primarily at or close to home during the dentist’s regular business hours.
- How far is the dentist’s office from my place of work? The answer to this question is needed if you plan to see the provider before, during, or just after work to see if that matches the provider’s business hours.
- What are the practice’s business hours? Compare this information with your daily schedule and think about the ease with which it would allow you to make an appointment for a child before or after school, or for yourself around work hours.
- How does the practice handle emergencies? In the event that you should be injured and require emergency dental services, it is wise to inquire with a provider about how they handle these types of situations. Find out if there is an on-call dentist to advise, or if you would be forced to wait until the office opens on the next business day.
- How do patients make appointments? Some practices will allow access to an online portal for their patients to make appointments, while others still require people to phone in and check for availability. It can also be beneficial to see if the practice operates a waiting list in case an appointment is cancelled and there is an opening.
- How long has the dentist been practicing? The more experience a dentist has, the more they have generally seen when it comes to teeth and gums. With years on the job can come a confidence in treating multiple types of dental issues, but it is critical that they are also still open to modern advancements in oral health.
- What types of dentistry does the dentist offer? The modern dentist should provide a wide array of services. Basic dental services are professional teeth cleanings, fillings, root canals, bridges, crowns and implants. Cosmetic dentistry may include professional teeth whitening, veneers, a gingivectomy, or even some basic dental procedures that are done in a way that provide optimum aesthetics. For some procedures, a dental laser may be used.
- What is their philosophy for patient care? While a patient generally does not want a dentist to be overly timid in treating any oral healthcare issues, they also do not typically want someone who is overzealous either. It is important to balance preventative dental care with essential dental care.
- What is their pricing model, and do they take insurance? The cost of dental service frequently depends on the type of dental insurance an individual has. Some dentists may accept certain insurance, while others may ask you to pay the bill and ask your insurance company for reimbursement. Verifying insurance and payment policies now could save you from unexpected expenses later.
With these questions answered regarding how to find a good local dentist, your list of potential candidates should be significantly smaller. At this point, it should be possible to make an in-person visit to each dentist’s office. While online research is imperative, there is still a lot to be said for verifying at least some information in person.
During a visit to a dentist’s office, take care to evaluate the cleanliness of the office, the friendliness of staff, the sign in process, and the waiting area. While waiting to speak with someone, listen to how staff answer the phones and communicate with the person on the other end of the line. Are their words and tone kind and helpful or laced with rudeness and impatience?
One of the most key aspects of visiting a dentist’s office in person is to establish a rapport with them. If you find communication to be stilted or there is a lack of professionalism, listen to your gut. A patient deserves to feel comfortable and confident in their dental provider’s ability and compassion. If that is missing, it can be best to keep on looking. If you are pleased with the dentist, then you may have found your new provider!
A Final Word About Finding the Right Local Houston Dentist for You
In a city as large as Houston, it is critical to research ahead of time to find the best dentist for you. However, it does not mean that your decision is final. Simply file the research you conducted in case you need to review it in the future. Should you become unhappy with the dentist or sense that there is a need for a change, you have the right to change providers, and your previous research will make it easier to do so.
Your dental health is too valuable to put in the hands of an individual or practice that does not respect or protect it.
With the knowledge of how to find a good local Houston dentist, you are ready to get started. Take your time and do your research with integrity for results that will really give you something to smile about.