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How to Find the Best Dentist Near You

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A grandmother and her grandchild standing on the street and reading messages on the phone.

Finding a great dentist near where you live or work is crucial for maintaining good oral health. About 1 in every 3 people feel a little nervous before a dental appointment, according to research by the Cleveland Clinic. Knowing your dentist and their team can reduce that anxiety – plus getting regular checkups and cleanings is the best way to maintain your dental and overall health. 

Whether you’ve recently moved to a new home or office, or just don’t get regular dental care but want to start, this article will walk you through the process of finding a reputable and skilled dentist near you. But if you need to find a local dentist fast, you may want to skip ahead and use our search tool to quickly find a dentist – and a dental plan so you can easily afford the dental care you need.  

See how much you can save with a dental savings plan.

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Find the best dentist – recommendations, reviews and credentials

Ask for recommendations

This is going to seem obvious, but it needs to be said: a great way to start your search for a dentist is by seeking recommendations from friends, family, or colleagues who live or work in your area. They can share their experiences, providing valuable insights into local dentists. Personal recommendations tend to be honest and reliable, as they come from people you know and trust.  

Remember, when you ask other people for recommendations, it’s most helpful to find out specifically what they like about their dentist. For example, “I like the way he explains things to me” might carry more weight than “he’s right down the block.” Also, if you have specific requirements—say, you want a family dentist who is very good with toddlers—you may want to talk specifically to other families with small children, or to your pediatrician. 

Research online reviews and ratings

Google Reviews, Yelp, Healthgrades and social sites are a great way to see what other people are saying about dentists in your vicinity. Look for issues, both positive and negative, that are consistent across all reviews.  Consider the dentist’s response to any negative reviews as it shows their commitment to patient satisfaction. 

Check qualifications and credentials

You may choose to review the dentist’s qualifications and credentials, particularly if you don’t have personal recommendations. Dentists are licensed by the state that they practice in. You can view whether a dentist has a valid license, how long he or she has been licensed, and other public information about the dentist’s professional record by searching the state board’s web site. You can also find out where the dentist went to school, if he or she holds a certification in one of the nine dental specialties, and whether the dentist has a permit to administer sedation or general anesthesia. All 50 states make this information available online. You can find links to each state’s dentist licensing information here.  

Here’s a little more information about dentist credentials – A DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) or DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) is a degree from a university-based dental education program accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). What’s the difference between DDS and DMD? Nothing, different dental schools just refer to the degrees by different names. If your dentist has a DDS or a DMD, they graduated from an accredited dental school.  If your dentist is a board-licensed specialist, he or she will have completed an additional course of study in one of the nine dental specialties. Orthodontists, for example, must study an additional two to three years to earn certification from The American Board of Orthodontics. 

Find the best dentist – convenience, communication, payment options 

Location and office hours

Choosing a dentist with a convenient location is essential, as it can save time and reduce the stress associated with traveling long distances for appointments. Additionally, consider their office hours to ensure they align with your schedule. Flexible office hours can accommodate your availability, especially if you have a busy lifestyle. 

Meet the dentist and staff

Once you have a few names of dentists who seem to fit your needs, you can pay them a “virtual visit” by checking out their websites and social platforms. If easy digital access to a dentist is important to you – perhaps you dread using the phone and want to contact the dentist by text message – check out how they handle booking appointments. Once you have narrowed your choices down to one or two dentists, you can schedule an initial consultation with the dentist to get acquainted and discuss your oral health needs. Observe how the dentist and the supporting staff interact with patients. Do you feel comfortable here, and does the practice’s communication style mesh with yours? Effective communication is crucial in dentistry. A great dentist will take the time to explain procedures, treatment options, and preventive measures in a way that’s easily understandable. Patient education is a sign of a dentist’s commitment to empowering patients to take control of their oral health. 

Cost and payment options

Check if the dentist accepts your dental savings plan or insurance. And if you’ve been putting off seeing the dentist due to budget issues, consider joining a dental savings plan. Dental savings plans, a trusted alternative to traditional dental insurance that provide savings on virtually all dental procedures, are accepted by thousands of dentists nationwide. Plan members report saving an average of 50%* on their dental care.   

Some plans offer emergency activation, so you can access the dental care you need very quickly. But don’t wait for an emergency to connect with the best dentist near you. Find your dentist and your perfect dental plan today at DentalPlans.com, the largest dental plan marketplace with more than 25 plans from the most trusted brands in healthcare. We make it easy to find the plan that fits your specific needs. Call us at 1-833-735-0399 with any questions or to receive a personalized plan recommendation.  

Want to know right now how much you can save with a dental savings plan? Use our calculator below.    

*Discount Health Program consumer and provider surveys indicate average savings of 50%. Savings may vary by provider, location, and plan.   

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