Dentist,  Procedures

How to Choose a Good Dentist? – Things to Check and Questions to Ask When Finding a Dentist

The quality of your dental work is very important in your long-term dental health, that’s why we have decided to put together a detailed guide on how to choose a great dentist, and how to spot a bad one. Choosing a good dentist requires some technical knowledge and effort but it is critical when it comes to extending the life of your teeth. There is a huge difference in what a mediocre dentist can offer compared to a great dentist and in this article, we’ll discuss how to find not only a good dentist but the best one. And in most cases this will not be a single person – this comprehensive article is about finding the best possible healthcare team to care about your teeth!

Before we start, please note that in this article we focus only on assessing the quality of dentists and their services. Because of this, this article is not about choosing the best reasonably priced dentist, as we have decided to completely skip all the economical and convenience factors, which are: 
- is the office easily accessible from your work or home?
- what are the office hours, are they convenient for you?
- does the dentist participate in your dental health plan?
- what is the dentist's office policy on missed appointments?
In this article we will focus mostly on standard dental care - that is diagnosing and treating tooth decay, root canals, implants, and periodontal treatment. Choosing a cosmetic dentist (teeth whitening, veneers, digital smile design) is not covered by this article.

1. Non-invasive or minimally invasive treatments available

Early diagnosis of any potential problems is crucial because the earlier they are diagnosed the greater the chances of treatment without drilling the tooth. Most dentists base their checkups on clinical evaluation, which is visually assessing your teeth plus poking them with a dental explorer (a sharp metal tool that helps to check if a tooth is soft at vulnerable spots). Sadly, this kind of examination is not able to detect proximal caries (located between teeth), and once these are visible to the naked eye they’re usually advanced.
This is why your main checkup dentist, the one you most often go to for regular checkups should be equipped and trained with DIAGNOcam and DIAGNOdent. This is a tool that enables the dentist to see between the teeth or under fillings using light illumination. Bitewing x-rays are also really safe and effective ways to detect cavities before they appear clinically.
Once any incipient or early decay has been detected a good dentist will proceed with non-invasive treatments using ozone, fluoride concentrate, and hydroxyapatite to remineralize the decay.

2. Using a microscope or magnifying glasses

Using magnification provides a more reliable diagnosis as well as less invasive treatment (especially when combined with modern treatment options). This is because your dentist can see your teeth in greater detail.

3. Areas of expertise

First of all, you need to know that dentists have their specialties:
1. General dentist – detecting and treating cavities, performing dental cleanings, and basic restorative treatments like crowns or veneers.
2. Endodontist – performing root canal procedures if your decay affected the pulp or your pulp has vitality problems for some other reasons.
3. Orthodontist – fixing the alignment of your teeth.
4. Periodontist – treatment and prevention of gum-related diseases.
5. Prosthodontist – restoring and/or replacing broken or missing teeth – teeth crowns on existing roots or implants.
6. Implantologist – restoring missing teeth roots with dental implants.
7. Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons – removing wisdom teeth, jaw surgeries.

4. Approach to treating decay – passive vs aggressive in treating decay

According to an old saying “ask 2 dentists and you’ll get 3 opinions”.

5. Approach to root canals

We believe that whenever possible you should avoid getting a root canal at all costs. Sadly, for some dentists, it is easier to jump straight to an RCT rather than trying to save a tooth.

6. Comparing online reviews of dentists

We believe that online reviews of dentists serve only one function – they can be a warning sign that a certain dentist is troublesome. But be aware that the typical dental patient is not able to tell if the quality of dental work was high or not, and every comment you read may be manipulated and published as buzz marketing (rather than being an actual patient reviewing the dentist). This is why you should never choose a dentist based on their “average score” on a rating website or based on how many positive reviews they got. In our own research, we found many practitioners with poor quality of service and tons of positive comments, while our’s dentists of choice had only a few reviews.

Clinical cases

1. Routine checkups

– good dentist: routine bitewing x-rays, DIAGNOcam and DIAGNOdenth examination, tooth vitality evaluation
– bad dentist: clinical (visual) evaluation only plus poking with a dental explorer

2. Treating enamel demineralisation (“white spot lesions”)

– good dentist: ozone therapy, fluoride therapy, hydroxyapatite
– bad dentist: no recommendation (“let’s wait and see”) or drilling the tooth right away

3. Treating dental decay limited to enamel (that is not affecting dentine yet)

– good dentist: remineralization protocol or DMG Icon enamel infiltration
– bad dentist: (“let’s wait and see”) or drilling the tooth right away

4. Treating regular caries that penetrated past DEJ (dentine-enamel junction)

– good dentist: working under a microscope in a minimally-invasive manner, using high-quality materials, using sandblasting or laser instead of classic drilling
– bad dentist: classic drill and fill using a regular diamond bur

5. Treating deep cavities near pulp or with pulp exposure

– good dentist: using ozone and regenerative materials, avoiding root canal at all cost (given that the tooth is still vital)
– bad dentist: going straight to the root canal therapy to make it easier for the patient

6. Performing root canal therapy

– good dentist: working with a microscope, using x-rays and/or CBCT before/during/after treatment
– bad dentist: opposite of the above

7. Functional dentistry

– good dentist: being a functional dentist – the holistic approach of looking at your
– bad dentist: just treating the symptoms in your mouth without searching for a root cause

How to Spot a Bad Dentist

There is a number of factors indicating that a certain dentist is not a solid one. Below we have listed the top red flags you may look for
1. Red flags when performing dental procedures:
– not using a dental suction system to remove saliva from your mouth (this is a big one!)
– working without an assistant, solo working without support
– answering a phone or touching unrelated items when in the middle of a dental procedure
– not using local anesthesia when performing potentially painful procedures
– performing procedures with the patient sitting instead of lying
2. Messy or unkempt office
3. Impolite stuff, not able to provide you with all the information you need
4. Limited options of treatments
5. Declaring the need for too many treatments, especially when your last dentist did not say you need them

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Please check back soon as we will update this article on a weekly basis.

This article is still work in progress and was last updated on August 15, 2022.

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