Choosing a dentist
A good dentist is interested in the whole you, especially if you have oral health issues and are not just in for a routine cleaning.
You know the drill: Brush after every meal and don't forget to floss. But oral health encompasses so much more than that, which means it's important to see a dentist regularly — every six months to one year. What to think about when choosing a dentist
There's no shortage of dentists — and no shortage of patients squeamish about visiting one. See these profiles of dentists
To alleviate at least some of the discomfort, think about the following when choosing the best dentist for you and your family:
- Convenient office location and hours: It's hard enough to go get a painful procedure, but if your dentist is in suburbs and you live and work downtown, you may never make it. Choose a dentist near your home or office who can see you at your convenience, whether that means early morning, lunchtime or during evening hours.
- Good "bedside" manner: Your mouth is just one part of your body. A good dentist is interested in the whole you, especially if you have oral health issues and are not just in for a routine cleaning. If you have children, find a dentist who specializes in children's dentistry, as he or she will have special techniques and equipment to make dental visits less intimidating for young ones.
- Oral health education: Does your dentist answer your questions and teach you proper brushing and flossing techniques? Are there pamphlets available in the office? Does the dentist or oral hygienist offer you samples of products to try?
- Member of the club: You'll want a dentist who is a member of the American Dental Association, which has a code of ethics and principles by which all members must apply.
Other than routine cleanings and X-rays, there are so many reasons to visit the dentist and so many possible treatments. How do you know what's necessary and what's cosmetic? You and your dentist should discuss a treatment plan before any procedure is done.
The insurance question
Most insurance carriers cover dental visits, including routine treatment as well as some surgical procedures. However, some health insurance plans do not include dental under their general coverage, so you'll need to buy supplemental dental insurance.
Check your plan before making your dental appointment, and then make sure the dentist you are seeing is covered under your plan. Dentists, just like any other doctor, can be expensive.
The bottom line when thinking about your dental health: Relax. Sure, it's no fun to have your teeth scraped and your gums poked, but if you choose your dentist carefully and take his or her advice, your visits will be less painful. So floss away!
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