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5 tips for choosing a dentist

There are many reasons that you may need to choose a new dentist: moving house, issues with insurance or when your current dentist just doesn’t meet your needs. No matter the reason behind it, the hunt for a new dentist can be daunting. Use these five tips to make your search easy and stress-free.

1. Understand your dental plan.

Your choice of dentist could be determined by your dental health plan. If you have a closed-network plan, for example, you may be limited to an in-network dentist. If you have a PPO plan, you can choose an out-of-network dentist but will usually save more at an in-network dentist.

With Delta Dental, you can find an in-network dentist easily with the Just enter your address, select your plan and press Find a dentist to get a list of local dentists. You can sort by distance or best match and filter by a variety of factors, like wheelchair accessibility, languages spoken, specializations and whether they’re accepting new patients.

2. Ask others for recommendations.

Ask family, friends, neighbors or coworkers what they like about their dentist, or ask your physician for a referral. You also may wish to ask for a list of local dentists who are members of professional associations, such as the American Dental Association, Academy of General Dentistry or a local dental society such as the California Dental Association.

3. Factor in accessibility.

Do you prefer a dentist location near your workplace or your home? How flexible can you be when it comes to scheduling appointments? How important is it for your dentist to have office hours on Saturdays? You can filter search results on the Find a dentist tool so you can find a practice that fits your needs. If you’re unsure, you can always call ahead and ask the practice about specifics.

What is DentaQual?

DentaQual is an objective, claims-based system that rates dentists compared to others in their area. Unlike customer reviews, which can be heavily skewed, DentaQual uses five categories to determine a dentist’s rating:

  • commitment to best practices
  • treatment outcomes
  • treatment recommendations
  • patient retention
  • cost-effectiveness

4. Ask questions.

When you have a list of prospective dentists, call their office or send an email to get any of your lingering questions answered. The Find a dentist tool doesn’t include information like how far in advance you’ll need to schedule cleanings. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions that matter to you and cross off the practices that don’t meet your requirements.

5. Evaluate the dentist after an appointment.

During your initial visit, check the office to make sure it’s clean, neat and orderly. How courteous are staff members? Do they handle your private medical and dental history with care? How child-friendly is the office?

After you leave, consider these questions: Were the office location and hours convenient? Would you feel comfortable asking this dentist questions? Would you trust his or her recommendations or referrals?

Last updated December 20, 2022

The oral health information on this website is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult a licensed dentist or other qualified health care professional for any questions concerning your oral health.