Switching to a younger dentist?

I remember a friend who is married to a dentist told me years ago when moving into a new area that I should look for a dentist who is no older than 50 years of age. Her husband retired his dental practice at 52 years of age.

This has me wondering now since my dentist is 56 years old. Should I be switching to a younger dentist? I don’t know anything about their continued training or how well they keep up with improvements in dentistry, because I’m not in that business. But I also wonder how well of a practitioner they are with their hands as they get older. Meaning, is someone with equal talents as a dentist better at 35 years old than at 56 years old?

Seems to me that you should ask your dentist what he does to keep up with continuing education, rather than stereotyping him in your mind as old and out of touch out of ageism.

Me, I want the old guy with experience, as long as he’s knowledgeable about modern guidelines and technology and not averse to using them when appropriate. I never want my body to be the reason any medical professional says, “Oh, wow, I’ve never seen THAT before!” :smiley:

I don’t know what they do for CE either, but even if they do CE, you’re going to find some younger dentists who are going to to be set in their ways right out of school and some dentists that are 65 with the latest technology in their office all the time and most of them somewhere in the middle. You’re best bet is to find someone you like and go with that. Besides, unless you have someone more complicated then cleanings and fillings, you probably don’t have a whole lot to worry about.

But like WhyNot (more or less) said, to dump a doctor because he just had his 50th birthday is kind of silly. Don’t forget, the 50 year old dentist has a lot of experience and the 35 year old doctor doesn’t. The 50 year old doctor has been doing this since there were ashtrays in the rooms (for the doctors/hygienists, not you) and people laughed at the idea of wearing gloves, if you get a root canal done by the 35 year old doctor, you might be his 4th one.
The older doctor is also going to have a bigger/better network of other doctors to refer you to, people that he actually knows can cure what ails you if it’s something out of his league (or his jurisdiction) and he’s not just passing you off to someone that dropped off a business card and a lunch last week.

I can keep going. FTR, I’m not saying you shouldn’t go to a younger doctor, I’m saying you shouldn’t go to a younger doctor because he’s younger.

I’m not in the dental business or work in health care, so whatever he might say he does to keep up might not be all that needs to be done, I wouldn’t know. Something that sounds impressive might be nothing more than him going to a trade show to drink with his old college buddies. That’s why I asked here.

I’d prefer experience of course, but medically related fields progress. There are new techniques and I wonder if a younger dentist had first-hand experience getting trained in it while the older dentist perhaps learned it on his own maybe just from someone who does dental sales. I’d also been told by a friend who works in a job that supports surgeons that they usually retire from surgery when they are about 60 years of age.

My personal experience isn’t worth much, but I found my last (quite young) dentist to be more idealistic and have a better bedside manner than any other dentist I’ve ever been to. She was also incredibly competent. Could just be coincidence, of course, since it’s an attitude thing as much as an experience thing. But if I had an older dentist with a good bedside manner, I would not feel compelled to change unless they (or their practice) changed for the worse.

a young dentist, one wanting to build a practice may not be a good choice.

The only reason I would consider a dentist’s age is that I’ve had a couple who I liked retire, and sell their practices to someone I liked less. Choosing a younger dentist might reduce the number of times I have to go through that.

My dentist of many years brought in a younger associate about 5 years before his planned retirement. Thus gave all the patients a chance to know him before the older fellow retired. I doubt that even 10‰ of the patients changed.

Maybe she just meant that, since in her experience (with a sample size of one?) dentists tend to retire early, so if you’re shopping for a new one anyway, best to find a younger one so he won’t retire right away and you’ll just have to go dentist-shopping again.

We do the same thing with dogs.

As opposed to the guy who has been well established for a decade and is more interested in making his tee time this afternoon?

well age doesn’t matter so much as attitude but experience counts also. I know I’m a much better dentist now then when I was right out of school. The is very true of diagnosis. I’m also much faster then I was then. No age problems such as eyes going, however I wear loupes. I figure I’ve still got a lot of good years left.

FWIIW continuing education varies by state, in Texas it is 12 hours a year. Of course many dentists do much more and some don’t pay attention in class.

I don’t think age matters, I’ve known young dentists who were never going to improve and old ones the never stopped improving. Pick someone you are comfprtable with, not all patient/providers are a good match.

This is something I always give my opinion on, but I say the opposite—look for an older dentist.

My reasoning is this: The younger dentist knows all kinds of great new techniques and so on and so on, but has not yet learned what is important and what isn’t…to the degree that the older dentist has.

An older dentist will say “Let’s work on this one in back here. Those on the top can wait a while.”; the younger dentist may say “And here’s the plan I have worked out to make your mouth perfect, we start tomorrow on all of your molars”

YMMV of course. I liken it to finding a good auto mechanic: I want a guy who will tell me “You got this problem and that problem and the other problem and… But I’d only worry about this one for now.” I then say “Would you let your daughter drive this car?” and he says “of course.” and that’s how it goes.

Yeah, me too. :slight_smile: