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7 questions to ask your dentist

Choosing a Dentist can be confusing and a bit daunting, so having the right dentist can help calm any fears you have about impending dental work and can make the trip to the chair less stressful. So we have put together this handy list of must-ask questions to help you narrow it down.

1. Are you listening?  Don’t literally ask this, but ask yourself if they’re listening to you.  This may be a gut-instinct but do you feel they are giving you bespoke advice related to your mouth and habits or rattling off a speech. You only have one set of teeth so be careful who you entrust them to.

2. How long has the practice been going?  Experience and continuity of care can be very valuable. Will they be there next time you have your check-up? It takes time to build a relationship on both sides. They will get to know your mouth, what materials work best in your mouth and how often to review you.

3. Do you have a dental hygienist?  With recent changes to the law you will probably see your dental hygienist more often than your dentist.  Does the hygienist clean your mouth thoroughly? Do they guide you in what are the best oral hygiene aids for your mouth and encourage you in between appointments?

4. What training and further education have you had?  Most dentists will have the basic qualification (BDS) but do they keep up to date with the latest techniques and materials?  This is especially important if you are considering any extensive treatments such as veneers or dental implants. Membership to a recognizable institution such as the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry is an added advantage.  Go online and research dental practices in your area. Dentist websites should list the dentist’s credentials, experience, a picture of them and increasingly videos.

5. What guarantees do you offer?  Make a list of questions like this to ask before your appointment as you may forget. Good questions can be: How long will this last before it needs replacing? This will all depend on your diet and how regularly you get it checked. Veneers can last over 10 years and crowns even longer – so importantly, question what guarantees they offer treatments like this.  It’s also important to know in advance how you can access care outside office hours if there is an emergency.

6. Do you have experience with similar types of treatment?  A proven track record speaks volumes about a dentist. Do not be afraid to ask to see examples of similar treatments carried out by that dentist and you can even ask to speak to previous patients. Make sure they’re not showing you pictures out of a catalogue.

7. If you are considering crowns, bridge, veneers or implants ask – Can I meet the laboratory technician that will be making my work and see their credentials? Cosmetic dentistry requires a true artist and for an artist to work they need to see their subject. They will want to see you to get the colour shade for your teeth and make sure your new smile matches your face, skin tone and age.

FINAL TIP: Get referrals from as many sources as possible. Ask some of your relatives, colleagues or friends (with good teeth) if they can recommend reliable dentists. Do your research on the internet for reviews once you get a list of candidates and call them for more information. Remember this is a relationship for life; if you do not feel comfortable, find someone else.

Expert dentist and best selling health author James Goolnik.
Expert dentist and best selling health author James Goolnik.

James Goolnik is the founder of the award winning Bow Lane Dental group in the city of London. James is past president of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He qualified from Kings’ College Dental School and went to study his Master’s degree in Conservative Dentistry at the Eastman Dental Institute. He is the author of ‘Brush’ about innovation in Dentistry. He was voted by his peers as the most influential person in Dentistry in 2011 & 2012. He recently founded the charity “Heart Your Smile” aimed at getting people to visit the dentist.

Follow James on Twitter @jamesgoolnik




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