How to Find a Dentist

by Charlotte Wood
(last updated April 17, 2009)

For many people, going to the dentist isn't too thrilling of a venture. I don't completely dread the dentist like I did when I was growing up, but the prospect of sitting in a chair with a dentist poking sharp instruments and cleaning chemicals in my mouth still doesn't make me too excited. What I've found, however, is that if you have a dentist whom you like, then your dentistry experiences need not be excruciating. The key to avoiding troublesome dentistry experiences is finding the right dentist.

You need to know going into this search that finding the right dentist usually isn't very quick, and you might have to "shop around" in a sense for the dentist who works best with you. As you're beginning your search for dentists, I find that it's best to start by taking the opinions of others. Word-of-mouth can be a very effective tool in finding the right dentist, especially if you're following up on the advice of someone you trust. Use your networking skills to your advantage when finding a dentist. Not only should you take the advice of friends and family, but you should also poke around your social networks for dentists. Dentists are more common than you may think, and if you simply ask around your church congregation, your PTA friends, or your gym crowd, you will often find someone through someone else that you will feel comfortable with as your dentist.

When you go to a dentist for the first time, go in for a simple cleaning and check-up. You don't want to have your first experience with any dentist be a root canal: of course you'll hate that dentist, because root canals naturally foster ill feelings. By going in for the simple dentist routine, you'll get a good feel for the dentist's methods and personality. It's important that not only do you feel comfortable with how your dentist performs the basic dentistry procedures, but that you feel comfortable with your dentist. Your dentist should have a personality that you respond well to. You should be able to comfortably converse with your dentist (well as comfortably as you can with his or her hands in your mouth) and you shouldn't feel uneasy with anything that your dentist says or does.

A good dentist makes your dentistry experiences as comfortable as possible: a good dentist administers the Novocain with smooth skill, gives you enough Novocain, and performs the needed procedures with efficiency and finesse. Dentistry experiences should be as quick as possible, and a good dentist won't prolong the experience any more than necessary.

Finding a good dentist is important and definitely possible. If you take the right paths to finding the right dentist for you and if you make sure that you are comfortable with your dentist—regarding both dentistry and otherwise—then your experiences at the dentist won't be so dreaded!

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