A Guide to Finding a Houston Dentist That Fits Your Family
Dental visits are a critical aspect of oral healthcare, and it’s important for people of all ages. Thankfully, there are dentists who specialize in treating people of all ages, including children. That makes them a good fit for families, as they can treat everyone in the household.
The question is – how can families find the perfect dentist for their needs? We’ll address that, along with what to ask a potential family dentist so you know you’ve got the right one.
How and Where to Look for a Family Dentist
There’s no secret to finding the right dentist. It comes down to searching, shopping around and asking questions. There are a few ways to jumpstart your dentist search, though. For example:
- Get recommendations from trusted family and friends – The first step is asking friends and family for dentist recommendations. Chances are, you know someone who can point you in the right direction. If you can’t turn up a good recommendation this way, ask coworkers, your doctor, or even parents you randomly strike up a conversation with. Even if all they can provide is a name, it’s a start.
- Look for highly rated dentists through online review sites – Word of mouth carries a lot of weight, but even if you do get a couple of leads from other people, it’s worth taking your search online. There are numerous websites that publish dentist reviews, and you can reference these to find a few more leads.
Google reviews are a first stop for many, and for good reason, but there are other review portals to look at as well. Zocdoc is a popular first stop when researching dentists, but it isn’t the only one. Vitals, Healthgrades and a few others can be helpful as well. You may not find a ton of reviews on these alternative review sites, but you may find trends worth considering. For example, several reviews may indicate a dentist as communicative, skilled, responsive, or detail oriented. Depending on what you’re looking for in a dentist, this can be valuable information.
- Research prospective dentists through their websites – Before stepping foot in any practice, look them up online. Most websites will have critical information about insurance, new patient procedures, referral policies and other relevant details. Some of your important questions may already have answers, saving you a phone call.
At this point, you’ve probably got a few family dentists worth considering. But you can only learn so much about a practice through their website. Before your family can completely settle on a dentist, an in-office visit is in order.
Six Questions to Ask a Prospective Family Dentist Before Making an Appointment
Reputable practices won’t have a problem with potential clients coming in and touring their offices. Many practices provide low-cost consultations and cleanings, and these are perfect opportunities to ask important questions. Here are six questions worth asking during your initial visit:
- What procedures do you refer to other dentists? Each practice’s referral policies are different and depend on the dentist’s skills. One family practice may refer to a pediatric dentist for simple fillings. Another practice may handle fillings, root canals, extractions – even minor oral surgeries without referring patients elsewhere.
It can take weeks to connect with a referral, and this can be a problem if you require prompt treatment. While it may not be a dealbreaker, many families prefer to minimize referral procedures for this reason.
- What is your treatment philosophy for cosmetic issues? Every dentist is also a bit different with their approach to treatment. Some are proactive and recommend treatments as soon as they seem necessary. Others are more conservative and may take a wait-and-see approach before recommending a procedure.
This difference is pronounced with cosmetic dentistry. Some practices do not consider cosmetic treatments to be a priority if they don’t have an obvious impact on oral health. Others realize that cosmetic treatments can also support dental health and will be more likely to recommend them.
- How often do you suggest X-ray imaging (and can we see the images)? Regular dental imaging is necessary for tracking oral health, especially for younger patients. Verify that the practice performs regular imaging. Even better, verify that they will go over the images with you and justify their treatment recommendations using these images.
- Does the practice’s owner also perform dental treatment? Increasingly, dental practices are being run by investors who do not work at the practice themselves. At these facilities, there can be a great deal of dentist turnover – a situation that makes it difficult to establish a long-term relationship with a dentist.
If your Houston dentist owns their own practice, you won’t suddenly be stuck with a dentist you’ve never met before.
- Does the practice provide sedation for anxious patients? The vast majority of people have some degree of dental anxiety, and this anxiety is pronounced among children.
To combat dental anxiety, practices have various sedation tools at their disposal – but only if the dentist is trained in their proper use. For minor procedures, laughing gas and local anesthetics may be sufficient, but for intensive treatments or particularly anxious patients, general anesthesia may be administered.
Before picking a family dentist, get an idea of how they handle sedation and whether it’s enough for your nervous family members.
- How does the practice handle dental emergencies? Can the practice rush an appointment for emergency reasons? Do they have additional staff who can cover off-peak hours? If you’ve got children, you know that a dental emergency is only a slip, trip, or poorly executed stunt away. A practice that can accommodate this provides peace of mind for its clients.
As you ask these questions, you’ll likely get a feel for how the practice operates and whether it will be a good fit for your family. You’ll also see how well the dentist communicates – and this can make or break your decision. Ideally, your family dentist will explain themselves and their treatment recommendations fully, ensuring patients have the information they need to make good dental decisions.
Choose a Family Dentist the Whole Family is Comfortable With
It’s common for families to stick with the same dentist for years, even decades. That’s a long-term healthcare relationship, and you don’t want to spend it with a dentist your family isn’t comfortable with.