Moving, insurance changes, current dentist no longer feels like home: there are many reasons that lead to the path of finding a new dentist. When you asked for recommendations online everyone and their brother is adamant that their dentist is the best, but will they be what you really need?
Does the dental office have new patient openings?
First, a dental office may look wonderful and the existing patient base adores them, but are they in a growth mindset? Do they have openings within the next two weeks? Does the office keep blocked off time to see new patients; if not the existing patients will have snagged those early morning and later afternoon appointments six months ago.
Many offices are quite full and are actually trying to reduce time open, closing on Fridays and working through lunch to close early. How many hygienists work at one time? If the office only has one provider then it will be impossible to be seen and the two children at the same time.
Do the Dentist and the hygienists work on a regular consistent schedule?
Once you build trust and a relationship with a dentist it is very disappointing to not be able to see them again the next time. Make sure the dental office is in alignment with your request and ability to stay with the same providers. Beware of statements such as “We can’t guarantee who you will see or we don’t take requests for hygienists.” It will be a never ending battle to get appointments with the clinical staff of your choice.
Does the Dentist do most work needed at this location or does he/she refer to other providers?
Not all dentists are comfortable doing the same procedures. You can go to a “family and cosmetic dentist” and then find out that you will have to see someone else for the gum issue, a different person for the root canal, yet another for the implant or wisdom teeth removal. All these providers are not related to the office, not in the same networks, and not at the same location.
If you know you will need extensive work ask what types of procedures can be done at the one location, many dental offices can do most root canals, extractions, implants and gum issues- without ever having to go to another office.
Does the dental office file my insurance?
Many offices will not disclose financial policies unless you ask. Make sure that if you have dental insurance they are filing the claim electronically for you and not requiring you to pay everything up front and be reimbursed. Many procedures have a percentage that you will have to pay, is there a treatment coordinator that verifies your insurance and gives you a correct estimate of what you will be responsible for?
Beware of offices that say “you will need to call your insurance for your coverage or you will need to find out what benefits you have.”
Professional and patient centered dental offices are set up to call your insurance plan and help you navigate your benefits.
Of course reviews are great to look at, but many people will not go into the details that will become very important quickly. Even speaking with friends will not reveal financial issues or referral issues- as each patient has unique needs. The legwork in the beginning will serve you well to build a long term dental relationship.
Angela Collins, MHA
BS Human Resources/Psychology
Masters Healthcare Administration
Mother of Four, Mountains to the Sea- loving NC