Posted February 16, 2016
A new job or change in dental carriers may require you to switch dentists. Many people select a new dentist based on recommendations from family, co-workers or friends. Others review online ratings or choose a dentist based on location. Whatever the process, before making the first appointment, check the office’s operations and review this list of red flags provided by MSN health and fitness:
- Dental records – A new dental office should ask for files from your previous dentist to establish a baseline of your dental health and know your X-ray history. The American Dental Association recommends patients receive a full set of X-rays every two years.
- X–ray technology – New digital technology provides an enhanced view of cavities and other problems with less exposure to radiation. If the dental office still is using X-ray film, look for a different dentist.
- Germ control – Ask how the dental office controls the spread of germs between patients and dental team members. Are tools autoclaved and heat-sanitized to kill germs? Do dental professionals wear gloves and masks and change them between patients?
- Oral cancer check – During a checkup, the dentist should look for signs of oral cancer, such as lesions, abnormal white or red patches, and check the neck lymph nodes.
- Treatment plan – Find out the process for evaluating dental needs for new patients. Is a treatment plan developed and prioritized? Remember, just because dental insurance covers a procedure doesn’t mean it’s necessary. Dentists may recommend replacing silver (amalgam) fillings with new porcelain material. However, the Federal Drug Administration says silver fillings are safe. If fillings are in good shape and protecting tooth surfaces from decay, replacement may not be necessary.
- Restorations – A cracked or broken tooth may need only a bonded restoration, if 50 percent of the tooth is good vs. having to cap the tooth with a crown. Ask dentists their preference for repairing teeth.
- Lab services – Find out where dental lab work is performed. Some dental offices now contract with labs outside the U.S. because they can get a better deal. Ask about the reputation of the lab and the quality of work.
Dental insurance benefits can help you take good care of your teeth. Learn eight tips for evaluating dental plans to find the right coverage.