Finding a dentist
When choosing a dentist, the British Dental Health Foundation offers these suggestions:
- Ask family, friends, neighbours or colleagues for their recommendations.
- Look in the Yellow Pages, on the NHS Choices website, or contact your local Primary Care Trust.
- If you are moving, ask your current dentist to make a recommendation.
- Contact the British Dental Association which provides a list of private and NHS dentists and their specialities.
The BDA suggests that you call or visit more than one dentist before selecting the one you feel will offer a good long-term relationship.
What should I look for when choosing a dentist?
You and your dentist will be long-term oral health care partners; therefore, you should find someone you can be comfortable with. You will first need to decide whether you want to have an NHS dentist, or a private dentist. The availability of NHS dental services is patchy, and in some areas it is almost impossible to find an NHS dentist who will take you as a patient because their lists are already full. To find a suitable dentist to meet your needs, consider asking the following questions as a starting point:
- What are the dental surgery hours? Are they convenient for your schedule?
- Is the surgery easy to get to from work or home?
- Where was the dentist educated and trained?
- What is the dentist's approach to preventive dentistry?
- How often does the dentist attend conferences and continuing education workshops?
- What type of anaesthetic is the dentist certified to administer to help you relax and feel more comfortable during any necessary dental treatment? If anaesthetic is offered at the dental surgery, check that support staff and back-up are available as recommended by the BDA.
- What arrangements are made for handling emergencies outside of office hours? NHS dentists do not provide out-of-hours cover. This is provided by your local Primary Care Trust, or you can contact NHS Direct. If you need urgent dental care out of hours, unless you are exempt from NHS dental charges, a fee is payable.
- If you are choosing a private dentist, you should ask if information is provided about all fees and payment plans before treatment is scheduled. If you are comparison shopping, ask for estimates on some common procedures such as full-mouth X-rays, an oral examination and cleaning, and filling a cavity.
- If your dentist is private, does he or she participate in your dental health plan?
- What is the dentist's policy on missed appointments?
If visiting a dental surgery:
- Do the premises appear to be clean, tidy and orderly? Do all surfaces and equipment in the treatment room appear clean?
- Are the members of the dental staff helpful and willing to answer your questions?
- Do the dentist and staff wear gloves and other protective gear during patient treatment?