Ten quick-fire questions to ask your new dentist
If you’re looking for a new dentist it’s easy to be bamboozled by lots of promises, dental jargon and new technology. With so many dentists only offering limited NHS places, it’s also easy to jump on the first option available. So how can you spot a quality dental practice amongst all that noise and ensure that you make the right decision for you?
Here are our top ten questions to help you find the right dentist this New Year. You might want to ask all of these questions of your proposed new local dentist or select a handful that are most important to you, your lifestyle and your dental health.
Before you start
Not sure where to begin? There are three easy ways to kick-start your search for a new dentist:
- ask for recommendations – your friends, your neighbours and people you work with may know of a good dentist in your area. Reputation and word of mouth will speak volumes
- ask another health professional, such as your doctor or local pharmacy
- if you’re moving to a new area, ask your current dentist for recommendations in your new location.
Q1. Do you offer a dental membership plan?
A membership plan can make routine dental treatments affordable via monthly payments. Typically a patient will pay around £16 per month for two hygiene appointments and two visits to the dentist per annum, which will include an oral health check. This membership plan also often includes up to 10% off treatments.
Being a member of a dental plan is one of the most cost-effective ways to ensure you have all of the necessary dental appointments each year, all for less than a cup of coffee per day.
Q2. Do you offer payment plans or finance?
If you unfortunately need to have more expensive treatments, such as dental implants, bridges or orthodontics, does the practice offer extended payments over the course of the treatment or do they offer finance? Many modern dental practices will offer 0% interest for up to one year and interest-bearing over one year.
Finding out about payment plans and finance at an early stage of your search can set your mind at rest.
Q3. Can I book online?
As technology improves, many local businesses offer clients online booking services. Hairdressers, restaurants and now dentists are taking advantage of this. If you like the ease and simplicity of using the internet, having a dental practice that offers this service can be an incredibly convenient option.
Q4. Do you have any special interests?
General dental practitioners (general dentists) have training in a wide range of dental skills. More specialist skills are often required for more complex treatments including: gum treatments (periodontics), root treatments (endodontics) and straightening crooked teeth (orthodontics). If the dental practice offers these specialist services in-house it can be far more convenient than having to travel to another specialist dentist.
Some dentists are not registered specialists but have a special interest in a particular treatment area, for example endodontics or periodontics. The difference between a ‘specialist’ and ‘special interest in’ is that specialists are registered with the General Dental Council and are on the specialist register. The register ensures that the specialist has had adequate Masters level postgraduate training.
A dentist with a ‘special interest in’ a particular area will have simply undertaken further training but not at the same Masters level as a specialist. They will also not be on the specialist register with the General Dental Council.
Q5. Do you have any dental practice reviews I could read?
Reviews and testimonials give a clear indication of what other people think of your new dentist. Reviews which are just simply typed into their website could, arguably, be falsified. Reviews which are embedded from Facebook or Google are far more reliable.
How do you find embedded reviews? Find out the name of the dental practice you wish to find reviews for, go to Google and type the name of that dental practice followed by the town. On the right-hand side you should see the business appear in the Google listing. Underneath this will be the reviews for that practice.
Q6. Do you have any third-party accreditations?
Many dental practices voluntarily subject their services to external accreditation and quality management processes. All dental practices are required to comply with the Care Quality Commission but some go even further. One example is Denplan Excel. This accreditation program provides tools and structures to help the dentist communicate with their patients about their oral health in a simple and effective way. Denplan Excel ensures that dentists abide by the latest recommendations and are committed to continuous improvement.
Q7. Where can I go for more information?
Visit your potential new dentist’s website. Is there plenty of freely available information either to download or to read on the site? Look particularly for information about straightening crooked teeth, replacing missing teeth, restoring broken teeth and looking after the health of your teeth. A dentist that truly cares about their patients will ensure their website has plenty of useful, free and relevant dental health advice.
Q8. What emergency treatments are available?
Always ask a new dentist what emergency cover they offer. Does the dentist in the practice provide emergency cover themselves or do they share it with other practices in the local area? If they share with other practices, how far would you have to travel in the event of a dental emergency?
Q9.What is the level of customer care?
The level of customer care and patient satisfaction with the whole dental team is very important and this can be seen in the website reviews and on Google. The practice quality assurance is done via icomply and our standards and procedures meet all professional regulations and legislation , including the fundamental standards of the CQC.
Q10. Do you offer free assessments?
Some dental practices offer free assessments. In our experience we have found that these free consultations don’t always give enough time to conduct a thorough examination and explore all the options available. Free consultations are often much shorter than a regular appointment and may not allow the dentist to give you the individual care and attention that you deserve.
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