Writer's Bloc guest writer this week is Heather Slade, Managing Director of Hillside Dental Centre, and Smiles By Design in Victoria, BC. Heather began her career in dentistry in 2001 with Winfield Dental Centre, and later Kelowna Dental Centre, before moving to Vancouver Island.
Okanagan's best dentist
By Heather Slade
The Okanagan's best dentist is
. . . dependent on you.
A great dentist/patient relationship can transform your experience of dentistry. The best dentist for you will be different than the best dentist for, say, your neighbour. Like any relationship, the best choice is different for every person.
Dentistry is an intimate relationship that requires trust and good communication. Just as with any other relationship, some people see eye-to-eye, while others talk at cross-purposes. Both parties benefit when you find the right fit for your dental care.
Every dentist is as unique and individual as any of us. They come with their own values, past experiences, preferences, and philosophy. They all have the same high standards of training, ethical commitments, and rigorous testing, so you can be sure you will get quality work. Their approach can vary broadly, though, as clearly evidenced by the wide variety of treatment plans one patient can get from different dentists.
Most complaints against dentists are the result of unclear or insufficient communication between dentist and patient. Finding the right dentist for you can help make sure the lines of communication run smoothly, and misunderstandings don’t become something more serious.
Choosing the right dentist is easier when you have some idea what you are looking for. Many people choose the ‘nice’ one or the one with the prettiest office. These factors can be misleading.
Consider, do you want a perfect, white, Hollywood smile? Or are you interested in just keeping your teeth healthy without the extras?
Do you prefer to be proactive about preventing issues, or are you a don’t-fix-it-unless-its-broken type of person?
Are you concerned about your gum health? Do you need or wear dentures? Are jaw joint issues something you want help with? Do you want someone who will see your kids, too? Do you have health, phobia, mobility, or language issues?
Once you have an idea what you are looking for in a dentist, start looking at ads and websites. A dentist who advertises cosmetic dentistry might not be for you if you want barebones work, while a dentist who promotes kid’s dentistry might not be your best bet for a full smile makeover. Get some ideas then pick up the phone.
Talk to the staff
On the phone or in the office, dental office staff know the dentists very well and can direct you to the one who is most likely to share your philosophy or be able to best address your needs.
Ask about the dentist’s special interests in dentistry
While they are all qualified to perform general dentistry well, most dentists find the areas that really interest them and pursue that interest through continuing education. Orthodontics, implants, gum surgery, wisdom teeth surgery, and cosmetic dentistry are all areas in which they may take additional training.
If you are a patient in a multi-doctor clinic
Don’t be afraid to let them know you would like to try a different dentist in the group. Dentists would prefer that you find the right fit, you don’t need to worry about bruising their egos.
Stop by the office
Are the staff friendly, and do they make you feel at ease? Is the office neat and clean? Has care been taken with the aesthetics? If you have kids, is there a play area?
Consider special needs
Whether they are mobility issues, health issues, or phobias, discuss any special needs with the staff to determine how the office can accommodate you.
Find out whether the office accepts assignments from your dental plan or whether you will need to pay up front. Also, do they offer financing for major treatment?
Ask to meet the dentist
Most offices will book a short consultation meeting so you can sit face to face to gauge how comfortable you feel with the dentist. This is not the time to ask for a diagnosis, it is just a chance for you to meet and ask questions to help determine how well you will understand each other.
The College of Dental Surgeons of BC offers public listings of complaints and discipline notices which you can review if you have any concerns about past complaints.
When the dentist/patient partnership is a good fit, both patients and dentists feel confident and relaxed. Trust develops, communication is easy, and expectations on both sides are clear.
The right dentist for you is the one you trust, who understands where you are coming from, and where you, and your smile, want to go.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.