Question: I am moving out of state next month, and am wondering how I can find a new dentist?
Answer: Finding a new dentist is just one of the many things that need to be replaced after moving far from home. It is also one of those things that is often delayed or forgotten about until a tooth breaks, or a throbbing toothache wakes you up in the middle of the night. Some of the reasons that people put off finding a new dentist are due to a lack of urgency or perceived need for dental care, and not knowing how to locate a quality dentist.
The writer of this question is more proactive then most of us. At times, we all fall prey to the "put out fires" mentality, i.e. not acting until there is an emergency situation. Most people move to a new area and don’t think about dentists or dentistry, because they think their teeth are just fine. There is no pain, and their teeth look pretty good when they look in the mirror. They will get around to finding a new dentist as soon as they get a chance. Sound familiar?
What we must try to remember is that dental problems are very insidious, that is, they sneak up on you. Teeth with cavities rarely become sensitive until there is very severe damage to the tooth. By the time a tooth starts bothering you, the tooth is often infected and requires root canal to save the tooth. Gum disease is also usually painless and gives very few warning signs except when the disease is very advanced. By then the teeth can become loose, and the gums swollen. For these reasons, finding a new dentist should be one of the first things you do when you move to a new area.
So how do you find a good dentist in your new location? Most people "let their fingers do the walking" and open up the trusty yellow pages. Many people ask friends or family if they are happy with their dentist, and then try the dentist out. If you have just moved to the area, you may want to ask a new co-worker or new neighbor if they are satisfied with their dentist. You can also call or search the Internet for a dentist who is a member of your local dental society, and your district’s branch of the American Dental Association (ADA).
All of these methods can be useful, but most likely it will be a case of trial and error. The key elements in the dentist-patient relationship are trust and having an open line of communication. I recommend that you interview a few dentists in your area, and find the one whom you feel most comfortable with. Next, you should check the walls for credentials and continuing education certificates, and finally inquire about before and after pictures and testimonial letters. A dentist with a good reputation in the community and who takes pride in his or her work should have no problem sharing most if not all of these items.