5 keys to picking a great next dentist

You should always settle for more when picking your next dentist.

Has a recent move made the biannual visit to your long-time dentist a major inconvenience? Has your dental insurance changed and your policy no longer covers the cost of a cleaning of filling? Is the dentist office you've always gone to now under new management? Is the high-quality patients care you've grown accustomed to no longer meeting your expectations? 

For these reasons and many more, people every day decide to leave the dentist that they've gone to for years. You may be in that situation yourself. Frequently, individuals don't really think about why they go to the dentist office that they do. It's often a matter of comfort, simply being accustomed to the dentist that you went to when you were younger because your parents went there, too.

But whether it's due to a cross-country relocation or the practise going out of business, it's important to be discerning when choosing your next family dentist. Here are five helpful pointers to keep in mind:

1. Ensure the practise is a member of the New Zealand Dental Association
Established in 1905, the New Zealand Dental Association is the official professional organisation representing dentists in New Zealand. But in addition to representation, the NZDA also performs oversight by making sure that its members maintain best practises in the promotion of their patients' short-term and long-term oral well-being. NZDA members are required to abide by certain practise guidelines and a code of ethics that obligates dentists to always put their patients' best interests first and foremost.

You can find out if a dental office you're considering is a member of the NZDA by visiting the association's website and clicking on the "Find a Dentist" link at the top of the screen. If the search produces no results, you may want to ask the office directly just to make sure.

2. Visit the practise in person
Online search engines have made information and fact finding easier and more convenient than ever before. But there are certain things that are best done in person. Settling on a dentist happens to be one of them. While it's fine to find out the basics online — such as patient reviews, hours of operation and where they're located — scheduling a visit gives you an up-close-and-personal look at the environment, its level of cleanliness and the demeanour of the hygienists, front-desk staff and the dentist(s), of course. If you call and ask for a quick tour, a truly worthwhile place to consider will be more than happy to oblige your request. If they turn you down, simply move on.

3.  Ask what their policy is about dental emergencies
Everyone has a toothache now and then, but if you've ever had one so painful that it was preventing you from going to sleep at night, you know that not all toothaches are the same. And when the throbbing is that bad, you can't afford to wait — you may need to be seen immediately.

Hopefully you'll never experience a dental emergency, but to err on the side of caution, ask about how they handle urgent situations such as these. They may have a phone number you can call or have special office hours designed exclusively for tooth pain, tooth loss or some other oral issue that may need immediate remedy.

Kindness is critical in any customer or patient care setting. Kindness is critical in any customer or patient care setting.

4. Discover what insurance they accept
Dental treatment can be expensive, which is why dental insurance more than pays for itself — even if it doesn't cover the full extent of a procedure or checkup. That's why it's important to look into whether the practise accepts the coverage that you have. Ideally, they'll take several different types, but if not, a potential alternative is if they allow you to pay off the bill over time with an installment plan.

5. Ensure they have convenient office hours
A dental practise can be highly rated, the staff extraordinarily kind and the interior spotless, but if they're not open at a time that works for your schedule, then none of those positives do you very much good. Therefore, make sure to clarify what days of the week the office is open and for how long they accept patients. You may also want to inquire about what their policy is regarding cancellations, such as if you need to give them a certain number of hours (or days) notice to avoid being charged with an inconvenience fee.

At City Dentists in Wellington, our mission is high-quality care for our high-quality patients. As a long-time member of the NZDA, we accept several different types of insurance plans and promise to deliver the kind of care you've come to expect from dentists you've had in the past or that you're now expecting for your family's needs. From dental emergencies to cosmetic dentistry and much more, we provide a wide range of customised services that you can count on from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday (7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays). Contact us today or book an appointment online.

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