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How to Find a Good Dentist

Selecting the right dentist for you and your family is an important decision. You want someone you can be comfortable with but is also well trained to give you the kind of dentistry you need. The question is, how do you know if you’ve found the dentist who’s right for you?

Consider the following key points:

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Qualified dentists will be either or doctors of dental medicine (DMD) or doctors of dental surgery (DDS). These degrees are co-equals, which means the dentists both studied at least two years of pre-dental college work, followed by another four years of dental school proper. The two also have to pass state and national exams to have a license.
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Dentists may also be board-certified in specific recognized areas of dentistry – for example, pedodontics (pediatric dentistry), orthodontics (correction of tooth and jaw alignment problems) and prosthodontics (restorative treatment such as crowns, bridges, etc.), among many others – to become specialists. This demands a minimum of two years of advanced classroom and training courses.


Routine cleanings are typically handled by dental hygienists or assistants. The hygienist’s designation can be either RDH (Registered Dental Hygienist) or RDHEF (Registered Dental Hygienist with Extended Functions). A dental assistant may provide assistance to a dentist throughout a procedure, take x-rays, set up anesthesia and do other general tasks.

What You Have to Know

When you come to visit a new dentist, don’t be shy and ask questions. Know how long the dentist has been practicing. Ask about the training and experience they had on the specific procedure you need. Also find out which professional dental associations or societies they belong to and if they keep up-to-date on the newest dental procedures and technologies. Also find out about the type of emergency care they can provide, like same-day, evening or weekend appointments. It is important that you completely understand any diagnosed and required treatment, so you should ask for clarification and more information prior to scheduling treatment.


Though you should never select a dentist based strictly on price, you have to understand the fees completely before consenting to treatment. If you have dental insurance but need to be enlightened on what is covered and not, the staff should be able to help you with that. Note, however, that it’s better to pay a slightly higher price for high quality dental work the first time, instead of paying a small amount and receiving inferior work that makes you feel uncomfortable and requires replacement before long.

There are generally a lot of treatment alternatives for a single dental issue. Missing teeth, for example, may be replaced by removable or fixed bridges, dentures or implants. Which option is right for you should be a joint decision between you and your dentist.