Frequently Asked Questions When Looking for a New Dentist

Frequently Asked Questions when looking for a new dentist

FAQs to ask a new dentist

Finding a new dentist can be a daunting task. Whether you’ve recently moved to a new area, switched insurance providers, or are simply seeking a change in dental care, it’s essential to ask the right questions to ensure you find a dentist who meets your needs and preferences. In this guide, we will address frequently asked questions when looking for a new dentist to help you make an informed decision about your oral healthcare.

1. How do I start my search for a new dentist?

The first step in finding a new dentist is to compile a list of potential candidates. You can start by asking for recommendations from friends, family, or coworkers in your area. Online reviews and dentist directories can also be valuable resources. Additionally, you can reach out to your insurance provider to obtain a list of in-network dentists. This will ensure that you’re covered by your dental insurance plan when you visit the dentist.

2. What factors should I consider when choosing a dentist?

Choosing a dentist goes beyond location and insurance compatibility. Consider the following factors:

a. Qualifications and Credentials

Verify the dentist’s qualifications and credentials. Dentists should be licensed by the state dental board and have appropriate training and certifications.

b. Specializations

Some dentists specialize in certain areas of dentistry, such as orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, or cosmetic dentistry. Choose a dentist who meets your specific needs.

c. Office Hours

Make sure the dentist’s office hours are convenient for your schedule. Some dentists offer evening or weekend appointments to accommodate working individuals.

d. Location

The dental office’s location should be easily accessible from your home or workplace to ensure regular visits.

e. Technology and Equipment

Modern equipment and technology can improve the quality of dental care. Inquire about the dentist’s use of digital X-rays, lasers, and other advanced tools.

f. Emergency Care

Ask about the dentist’s policy for handling dental emergencies outside regular office hours. It’s important to know where to turn in case of a sudden dental issue.

3. How do I verify a dentist’s credentials?

You can verify a dentist’s credentials through various means:

a. State Dental Board

Check with your state’s dental board to confirm that the dentist is licensed and has no disciplinary actions against them.

b. Online Reviews

Look for reviews and ratings on platforms like Google, Yelp, and Healthgrades. Past patients’ experiences can offer valuable insights.

c. Dentist’s Website

Most reputable dentists will have a professional website where they display their qualifications, certifications, and any awards or recognitions they’ve received.

d. Referrals

Asking for referrals from friends or family who have had positive experiences with a dentist is a reliable way to find a trustworthy professional.

4. What questions should I ask during the initial consultation?

Once you have a list of potential dentists, schedule an initial consultation to get to know the dentist and their practice. Here are some important questions to ask during the consultation:

a. What is your approach to preventive care?

Understanding the dentist’s focus on preventive dentistry is crucial for maintaining long-term oral health.

b. How do you handle dental emergencies?

Learn about their process for handling unexpected dental issues, such as toothaches, broken teeth, infections or other dental emergencies.

c. What payment options are available?

Discuss fees, insurance coverage, and any payment plans or financing options the dentist offers.

d. Do you have experience with my specific dental concerns?

If you have specific dental issues, inquire about the dentist’s experience and success in treating them.

e. Are you accepting new patients?

Confirm that the dentist is currently accepting new patients, as some practices may have limited availability.

f. What is your cancellation policy?

It’s important to understand the practice’s cancellation policy to avoid unexpected fees.

5. How do I assess the cleanliness and hygiene of a dental office?

The cleanliness and hygiene of a dental office are paramount to your safety and overall experience. During your initial visit, pay attention to the following:

a. Sterilization Practices

Ask about the sterilization procedures for dental instruments and equipment. Instruments should be autoclaved or treated with a similarly effective method.

b. Cleanliness of Treatment Rooms

The treatment rooms should be clean and orderly. Observe the condition of the dental chair, countertops, and other equipment.

c. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Dental staff should wear appropriate PPE, including gloves, masks, and eye protection, to prevent the spread of infections.

d. OSHA Compliance

Ensure that the dental office complies with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations for infection control.

6. How do I gauge the dentist’s communication and patient education?

Effective communication is vital for a positive dentist-patient relationship. Consider the following aspects of communication and patient education:

a. Willingness to Listen

The dentist should listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and address your specific needs.

b. Explanation of Procedures

A good dentist will explain dental procedures, treatment options, and expected outcomes in a way that is easy for you to understand.

c. Treatment Plan

Discuss a comprehensive treatment plan that outlines your oral health needs and any necessary procedures.

d. Follow-Up and Post-Treatment Care

Ask about the dentist’s approach to follow-up care and post-treatment instructions to ensure your dental health is well-maintained.

7. What should I consider about dental insurance and payment options?

Your dental insurance and payment options play a significant role in choosing a dentist. Consider the following:

a. Insurance Coverage

Ensure that the dentist accepts your dental insurance. Contact your insurance provider to verify in-network status.

b. Out-of-Pocket Costs

Discuss the cost of procedures, co-pays, and any out-of-pocket expenses to make informed financial decisions.

c. Payment Plans

Inquire about any payment plans or financing options that the dentist offers for procedures not covered by insurance.

d. Discounts and Promotions

Some dental practices offer discounts or promotions for specific procedures, which can help reduce costs.

8. What are the advantages of choosing an in-network dentist?

Opting for an in-network dentist can offer several advantages:

a. Lower Out-of-Pocket Costs

In-network dentists have negotiated rates with insurance providers, resulting in lower out-of-pocket costs for you.

b. Reduced Administrative Hassles

In-network dentists typically handle insurance claims, reducing administrative burdens for patients.

c. Guaranteed Coverage

You can trust that your insurance will cover treatments provided by in-network dentists, making budgeting easier.

9. What if I can’t find an in-network dentist?

If you can’t find an in-network dentist in your area, you have several options:

a. Out-of-Network Coverage

Some dental insurance plans provide partial coverage for out-of-network dentists, which can help offset costs.

b. Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA)

Consider using funds from your FSA or HSA to cover dental expenses.

c. Payment Plans

Discuss payment plans and financing options with out-of-network dentists to manage costs.

10. What is the importance of ongoing dental care and check-ups?

Regular dental check-ups are essential for maintaining your oral health. Here’s why ongoing care is crucial:

a. Early Detection

Regular check-ups allow dentists to detect and address dental issues in their early stages, preventing them from becoming more serious and costly.

b. Preventative Care

Dentists can provide preventive measures like cleanings, fluoride treatments, and sealants to safeguard your teeth.

c. Personalized Advice

Dentists can offer personalized advice on oral hygiene, diet, and lifestyle to maintain good oral health.

d. Monitoring Existing Conditions

For patients with existing dental conditions, ongoing care helps monitor and manage those conditions effectively.

11. What are some red flags to watch out for when choosing a dentist?

While finding the right dentist is important, it’s also crucial to be aware of red flags that might indicate a subpar practice. Some red flags include:

a. Lack of Transparency

If the dentist or staff is evasive or unresponsive to your questions, it could indicate a lack of transparency.

b. Pressure to Accept Unnecessary Procedures

Be cautious if the dentist pushes for unnecessary procedures or treatments that don’t align with your oral health needs.

c. Poor Hygiene Practices

A dental office with inadequate cleanliness, unsterilized equipment, or improper infection control is a serious red flag.

d. Negative Online Reviews

Consistently negative online reviews can be a sign of a problematic dental practice.


Finding a new dentist involves careful consideration of various factors to ensure that your oral health needs are met. From verifying credentials to understanding insurance coverage and ensuring effective communication, these frequently asked questions can guide you in making an informed choice. Remember that the right dentist is a partner in maintaining your oral health, and a well-researched decision can lead to a long and healthy dental relationship.

GDA is accepting new patients and we’d love to answer any questions you might have. Feel free to give us a call at (703) 754-7151 or fill out our contact form.