How can I be sure I choose the best Dentist for my needs?

The last dentist I saw told me I needed a “deep cleaning” and although I haven’t been to a dentist in years, I take good care of my teeth and I don’t think this is necessary. I decided not to follow up with him because I think he’s telling me to do unnecessary treatment. I want to choose the best dentist for my needs. How can I be sure I’m seeing a dentist who actually cares about me and not just my money?


Rachel in Arkansas

Dear Rachel,

We’ve probably all heard the saying, “My dentist is always happy to see me.  I paid for his Porsche.”  Sometimes “his Porsche” is replaced by “his son’s college” or “his new golf clubs,” but this is just making light of a valid concern.  When instruments are flying back and forth and you’re surrounded by people wearing masks and speaking what might as well be a foreign language, it’s difficult to know what exactly is going on. For some, the scene is likened to that of an episode of “The Twilight Zone.”

First off, don’t hesitate to ask questions.  If you don’t understand why you need a specific treatment, your dentist or one of his staff members should be not only willing, but also happy to translate things from Dental to English.  This is something they should automatically do, but occasionally people mistakenly believe they’re all on the same page when they’re not.  If you ask and you get the brush off or a generalized “We do this for everybody,” those can be warning signs that you might not be in the best dental practice to provide individualized care.  Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do ahead of time to find the best dentist for you, besides researching the dentist and getting referrals from trusted friends and family.

In regards to the type of cleaning he recommended, there are various types of cleanings he could be referring to.  Even if you practice excellent home care, some deposits can remain on your teeth and harden over time.  This requires additional time from the hygienist to remove and is often called a “deep cleaning.” If it has been an extremely long time since your last visit, you have health problems, are a smoker or have other issues, a “deep cleaning” can also refer to a type of cleaning done for someone who has periodontal disease.

Again, don’t hesitate to ask questions, but if the office doesn’t feel right, that may well not be the best dentist for you.  Please don’t let that deter you from seeking dental treatment though.  There are many dentists who not only want to ensure you are comfortable, but take pride in having a knowledgeable staff and in providing top-notch care.

This post is sponsored by Phoenix dentist Dr. Arthur Chal Esthetic and Reconstructive Dentistry.

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