How does one select a dentist?

I haven’t seen a dentist for many years, and the last time I did IIRC a dentist was recommended by my insurer.

I don’t have dental insurance now and have what appears to be a fairly major problem, probably requiring significant work.

How does one go about selecting a dentist? Do I just flip open a phone book and pick randomly? Are there websites that rate them? Do I select for some sort of specialty?

Is the cost of various procedures relatively standardized, or can it vary significantly from dentist to dentist? How can you effectively price shop?

Any advice would be appreciated.

I have always relied on personal recommendations. I know this is entirely anecdotal but the best dentists I have found in the last couple of decades are women and really young dentists.

Can’t help you. I picked the closest one that takes my (crappy) insurance. Got lucky. She seems to know what she is doing and is good with the kids. If I didn’t like her I would check out the next closest one who took my insurance.

As said above, I picked the closet that accepts my stooopid insurance. I got lucky too!

I’m a third that picked a nearby one off my insurance list. I didn’t like them at all, so I went to the next one down. They’re OK.
I miss my favourite dentist, Dr. T. He retired.

Word of mouth – what else? :wink:

Seriously, ask around. That’s how I found mine. People seem to like talking about their dentists.

As for prices, I don’t know how to research that, but it seems that prices shouldn’t vary too much in a particular location.

I googled something like “good dentist in Pasadena,” found a dentist review site (I tried looking for it again for you but couldn’t find it) and cross-checked a couple of names against Yelp. At the time, I didn’t have dental insurance, so I picked someone who had been very highly rated but also had reviews stating “moderate rates in case of lack of insurance.”

During the last open season I upgraded to a more expensive plan with dental & vision. He accepts mine, so I keep going.

I’ve moved around a lot in the past 6-8 years, and have had to find new health care providers several times. I’ve had a lot of negative experiences with dentists and staff (ask me about the dental assistant who looked like a linebacker and had hands the size of Virginia hams), and a few positive ones. My criteria are:

• Do they take my insurance?
• Are they close to my home (if you have a major procedure done, nobody wants to drive all over hell and backwater when they’re doped up and bleeding)?
• Is the dentist Jewish? Call me a racist, a slave to stereotypes, or whatever unpleasant term you want, but all of my best experiences as a patient were with Jewish dentists.

After the first visit, I might still bail and find someone else if the following criteria aren’t to my satisfaction:

• The reception area and exam room/surgery need to be clean and modern.
• The staff need to be friendly and courteous.
• The dentist, regardless of gender, needs to have small hands.

I once selected my dentist by his name.

Dr. Aiken. :smiley:

I have a coworker that needed significant work done on his teeth. It all went well, so when I needed to have some done on my own teeth, I just asked him who he used. So far so good.

I got a recommendation for a co-worker, who has the same dental insurance I do. Still going to that dentist 11 years later.

This is also true of gynecologists.:smiley:

First, ask a bunch of friends and see who positively loves their dentist. Don’t have anyone in the area whose opinion you’d trust about this? Then Yellow Pages.

Second, how big of an issue is cost? Is the difference between an $600 root canal and an $800 root canal kind of a big one? If so, then comparison shopping couldn’t hurt. Call up and ask about the price of whatever procedure(s) you think you might need (and it sounds like root canal will be #1 on the list). The location of the office will tell you a lot about price, in my experience, so if you’re serious about keeping costs down then don’t neglect to consider some dentists in the more run-down areas.

I’m a fan of Yelp! Never used it for a dentist, but it was great when I was looking for an optometrist.

Word of mouth is good as a starting point. We went to one fellow years ago who was recommended by one friend, but turned out to make a mistake with my husband’s filling so we quit him.

We switched to someone else, also via word of mouth. He was pretty good - fast and skilled - but made a whopping judgement error with one of the kids’ teeth about 5 years ago (missed a spot of decay the hygienist had pointed out to him, resulting in massive decay / cracked tooth / abscess / very bad pain and a hasty extraction, fortunately a baby tooth). We quit him at that point. I think that was a matter of his getting a bit older, until then he was fine (we went to him for something over 10 years).

The third dentist, the one we see now, was referred by word of mouth by the previous dentist’s hygienist. And also largely very very good, though one difference of opinion has caused us to have to switch at least for my son (long story told elsewhere on the board). The rest of the family is sticking with her because she’s skilled, and in my case in particular is VERY VERY GOOD about dealing with my pretty severe anxiety.

So I guess my cautionary tale is that word of mouth is decent but not everything. You might even ask other medical practitioners if they have suggestions.

Also most dentists will see you for a consult for a small (?) fee, then develop a treatment plan with cost estimate based on that. It may be worth seeing a couple of them for the consult and see what their opinions are. And prices do vary for the same services.

No, but the difference between an $800 and $1500 root canal would be. I have no idea if I’d ever be faced with such a big difference though, which is why I asked.

I forgot to ask - UNLV seems to have a fairly big dental school. Does anyone have any experience using a dental school as a patient? What sort of quality of care would you receive for how much of a reduced cost?

The cost of root canal will depend on how many roots the tooth has. I recently paid $1000 each for a pair of root canals. However, both teeth were molars, and my dentist is very expensive, so I would be surprised if it were to cost you that much. I doubt you could face more than a $200 or $300 price difference for that procedure in Las Vegas (barring outliers).


SenorBeef, since you mentioned the local dental school, at least get the same information from them. How good the treatment might be I don’t know.

Also, in your area the Southern Nevada Dental Society provides an online search for dental referrals. Or you can phone the society more information.

I look for an older dentist.

Maybe it’s unfounded, but I had experiences with younger dentists who wanted to try all kinds of fancy stuff and do this and that to everyone’s teeth. What I really want is an older experienced dentist who looks and says “Well, this filling really doesn’t need to be replaced quite yet. Let’s keep an eye on it.”

In other words, I want a dentist who knows what’s important to fix and what can slide.

A coworker picked hers because she can’t stand needles, and the feeling of having a tooth pulled, so she called every one in her isnurance book until she found one that would put her asleep while they pulled the tooth. She hasn’t had any problems with him, and If I needed to switch, would consider him, as I hate having teeth pulled, too.