Dr Alexandros Nikolaou, owner of Alenik Advanced Dentistry in Manchester city centre, outlines five simple steps to help anyone choose the right dentist to suit their needs.
Trusting a professional with your health is not something that comes easily to everyone. If we think about this a little deeper, it’s with good reason.
When you visit a healthcare professional, you’re putting yourself entirely in their hands. Not only do you trust them to carry out physical examinations, you also take their advice and guidance.
Informed by that advice, the decisions you make could impact your health in the short-term, long-term and potentially for the rest of your life.
Dentists are included in this bracket. As we know, adult teeth don’t grow back or self-repair like bones, so they need to last a lifetime. An obvious statement maybe, but one worth emphasising as damaging or losing adult teeth is a more common occurrence than you may think.
Choose the Right Dentist
So, how do you make sure that you’re looking after your teeth as best you can? Or, if you’ve suffered tooth damage, where do you go next? Making sure you choose the right dentist for your needs is the logical start, but there are a lot of factors to consider.
If you weigh up the following points before making a decision, it should place you in the best possible position to source a reliable, trustworthy and affordable dentist that fits your needs.
1.) Match your Dentist Skillsets with your Requirements
First ask yourself what your current requirements are likely to be. If you’re between dentists and have never had significant problems with your teeth, sourcing a dentist with a specialism in a particular field may not be necessary. However, if you’re considering dental implants, orthodontics or complex restorative work, finding a dentist with a positive track record in those treatments is advisable.
2.) Budget Realistically
Budget is where realism comes in. In the UK, we are lucky to have the NHS, which is a truly unique and pioneering healthcare system that we should all embrace and support. Many of my patients have used NHS dentists at some point. As a system designed to ensure everyone can access at least basic healthcare, it meets many peoples’ needs perfectly well.
Others have the requirement, inclination and budget to source private dental care. Discussions with my patients over the years suggest that the main reasons are quality assurance, wider treatment choices and higher standards of care. Generally, it’s true that if a dental practice has spending power, it can invest in its facilities, equipment and level of patient care without budgeting or resourcing constraints.
When making any purchase, you need to realistically balance needs against budget and healthcare is no different. NHS dentistry may cover everything you require. If not, private dentistry financing options are sometimes available when you can’t manage a single upfront payment. Some payment plans operate per treatment. Others work through small, regular long-term installments to cover the cost of care only when its needed.
In all cases, being as informed as possible about cost is the best approach. Don’t be afraid to contact dentists to ask about prices and what their services include. In addition, evaluate factors such as location, open times and other benefits, such as referral or loyalty schemes.
3.) Don’t Compromise on Professionalism and Trust
Professionalism and trustworthiness are basic qualities any dentist should possess. If you need specialist treatments, check a dentists’ skillset and qualifications. Have they undertaken extra training to ensure their skills are current and in line with best-practice? Do they attend seminars, write papers and host presentations? Are they known among their peers for their work and reputation?
However, professionalism goes beyond certificates and academia. Dentists should deal with their patients respectfully and politely and always be willing to explain anything they are unsure about.
Sometimes a lack of professionalism is more of a gut feeling than a tangible incident. If something’s not quite right, even if you can’t explain why, keep researching or taking recommendations from friends and family until you choose the right dentist that feels like a good match for you.
4.) Consider Facilities and Equipment
It is often said in dentistry that the look and feel of a practice reflects its professionalism. If a dentist has well-maintained rooms, invests in the latest equipment and uses top-quality materials, this speaks volumes about how seriously they take their profession.
Additionally, it suggests an emphasis on providing long-lasting, high-quality dental care. This is especially important in restorative dentistry involving bridges, crowns, veneers and implants that are intended to last for years, if not decades.
If a dental practice and its equipment feels neglected, you’d be forgiven for cancelling it out. Especially if you’ve opted for private dentistry – if you pay top rates, you have every right to expect top quality.
5.) Research Service and Aftercare Quality
You can’t know for sure the quality of service you’ll receive until you visit a dentist. You should certainly research the above factors to put yourself in the best possible stead. But they aren’t a guarantee that you will get superior service and aftercare.
Another way to boost your peace of mind is to gauge other patients’ opinions. Check review websites such as Google Reviews, Yelp, WhatClinic, Facebook and Trustpilot and see how well they rate.
If a dentist has zero reviews, the alarm bells should ring. If they have a 100% perfect track record, that is also suspicious. The ideal balance is regular reviews with an occasional point of constructive feedback or concern. Any dentistry should be responding to negative feedback online and attempting to resolve any disputes respectfully and professionally. This suggests that they are doing their utmost to solve problems, improve and retain patients. This is a positive sign and much more realistic than the extremes of either a completely blank or a squeaky-clean review history.
Thank you for reading my blog. You should now be equipped with enough solid considerations to take into account on how to choose the right dentist for your needs.
Dr Alexandros Nikolaou is the founder and owner of Alenik Advanced Dentistry in Manchester City Centre and has a special interest in implantology. From his Manchester dentistry, he treats patients with needs ranging from general dentistry and orthodontics through to restorative dentistry and implants.