Tips for choosing your family dentist

How to pick the best dentist for you and your family.

If you've just moved or are in need of a new dentist, finding the right one can be a daunting task. There are probably quite a few in your area, all of whom seem equally qualified. To help you narrow down your search for the right dentist for you and your family, here are a few helpful points:

Special needs

Your dentist needs to be a good fit for you and your family, especially if you have small children. Look for a practice that specialises in dentistry for children, as that can help your kids have a positive early experience with the dentist. If you or your family members have any special requirements from the dentist, you should always first look for someone who specialises in that. This could include anything from a cleft lip or palate to speech impediments that your children could be dealing with.

Do your homework

Most dentists have websites where you can learn about their educational history and experience. Do a quick online check to see what some of the top dentistry schools in your area are and try to find a dentist who attended one. You should also find out whether the practice is accredited. City Dentists are, for example, members of the NZDA (New Zealand Dental Association) who are "chosen advocates for dental professionals nationwide", according to the NZDA official website. 

Get a recommendation

If you're moving to a new area and leaving behind a dentist you like, ask them if they can recommend any dental practitioners in your new area. They may be able to give you the name of a trusted colleague. Similarly, if you have a dentist who is retiring or leaving the area themselves, find out who – if anyone – is going to take over their practice, or find out if they have any recommendations for you.

Ask around

There are few better ways to find a great dentist than asking nearby friends and family who they go to. Ask friends who have children near your age and have reported back generally positive experiences with both the dentist and the dental hygiene staff. Chances are, if other families are happy with their dentist, you will be too.

Consider location

If all goes well, your dentist is someone you're going to be visiting regularly for many years to come. Depending on the cleaning schedule of yourself and your children, you could be stopping by the dental office every few months. For that reason, you should be fairly particular about where the dentist is located. If it's a bit of a far drive from your home, work, or school, consider how that would make visits more inconvenient. Even small things like the number of parking spaces may be worth considering – the last thing you want is to be late for an appointment because you had to search for street parking due to a full parking lot. If you live in a major city, proximity to public transportation is a big plus.

Check online testimonials

These days, there are online reviews for everything, and doctors and dentists are no exception. Though frequently online reviews need to be taken with a grain of salt, it's not a bad idea to see what the overall rating for the dentists you're considering look like. One disgruntled customer may not be enough to put you off of a particular practice, but a string of similar complaints can be a red flag.

Attend yourself

Consider booking an appointment with a dentist on your own before you bring in your entire family. It will give you the opportunity to see what the waiting areas and exam rooms are like, plus you'll have the opportunity to meet the staff and make sure it's an environment you'd feel comfortable bringing your children to. You can also take note of any extraneous wait times or costs that were higher than you expected.

Ask for feedback

Remember that even once you pick a dentist and have your first appointment, you are under no obligation to continue with that practice. It's important to impress this point upon your kids, as they may not feel comfortable speaking up about something they didn't like if they think they're stuck with this dentist. While your kids are in the chair, observe whether the dentist seems comfortable working with small children. You should look for someone who is warm and understanding to their young patients, and someone who is willing to explain what procedures they're performing to help reduce fear and anxiety.

It's essential to set your kids up for success when it comes to dentist visits. If they have off-putting experiences when they're young, they may avoid the dentist as adults, so make sure they get in great dental habits early.

To speak with the team at City Dentists, call 04 978 4964 or book an appointment online.