It’s a new year, and that means many people have made resolutions to take better care of their health. Perhaps you’re one of them! Whether you have just switched dental benefits providers or you’re ready to get a checkup for the first time in a while, the initial step is finding a dentist. Although sorting through the list of dentists in your area may seem daunting, it doesn’t have to be. Taking a few easy steps and considering the right criteria will help you make the best decision for your dental care.
How to get started
First, assemble a list of dentists in your area. You can start with a simple Google search or a “Find a Dentist” tool (Beam Dental has one you can use here or via our mobile app). From there, you can narrow the search down by distance from your location and the type of provider you need (e.g., pediatric dentist, orthodontist, oral surgeon). Note: If you use a different Find a Dentist tool, you’ll need to confirm the practice is in your dental benefits network. You can get further insight by asking relatives, friends, coworkers, and your family doctor for recommendations.
Once you have an initial list, you can narrow the candidates down by consulting online reviews on Google, Yelp, and dental-specific sites such as 1-800-DENTIST. This can help you answer any questions about the:
- Services offered
- Flexibility and availability of appointment scheduling
- Friendliness and honesty of the staff
- Education provided about treatments and at-home care
- Cleanliness and comfort of the office
- Billing and insurance claim processes
If you’re now down to a few high-quality candidates, some of the following factors may help you arrive at a final decision.
Differentiators to consider when choosing a dentist
When you’re weighing several strong options, your dental benefits could be the tiebreaker. Visiting an in-network dentist is typically cheaper because insurance will cover a higher percentage of the cost than it would for an out-of-network provider. This doesn’t mean you need to completely disregard out-of-network dentists you like, however. Your dental benefits should still cover a portion of the cost — the percentage will depend on whether you have a MAC or UCR plan.
Many people don’t visit the dentist for long stretches because they don’t have time in their busy schedules. If you fall in that category, flexible hours are particularly valuable. You may prefer scheduling appointments after 5 p.m. or on weekends so you don’t need to take time off work or your kids don’t miss school. Not all dental offices provide these flexible hours, so this may make a significant deciding factor if you have a busy lifestyle.
Some dentists offer distinctive services that can make your experience more convenient, comfortable, and/or affordable. Do you get anxious about visiting the dentist? See if the office offers sedation dentistry to make your appointment more relaxing. Are you interested in adjusting your diet to eliminate acidic and sugary foods that can damage teeth? You may benefit from a dental practice that offers nutritional counseling. Would you prefer to have a dentist you can visit for both routine procedures and sudden dental issues? Look into providers that offer emergency services so you can get immediate care when necessary.
Dental health has a whole-body impact; finding someone who can help you take care of it isn’t something to take lightly. By incorporating these tips into the search, you can find a longtime partner in your healthcare journey.