How to Choose a Dentist
Date: October 31, 2012 Richard Jones


Choosing a dentist is one of the most important aspects in getting the proper dental health care that you need and deserve. Finding a dentist who will be able to successfully manage your overall dental health can lead the way to a more rewarding dental health experience for years to come – and can also ensure that you are as far away from dental problems and complications that can also have significant effects on your overall health.

A number of factors will need to be considered in choosing a dentist. It is important to note that while the cost of dental treatment and dental health care should be considered, a dental practice that offers the lowest of cheapest in terms of dental treatments may not necessarily be the best option for your dental health. Other factors, such as the dentist’s experience, education, personality, and overall capability will need to be considered as well in the quest to finding the best dentist for your specific dental health concerns. Keep in mind that you’re a lot more than your dental health is at stake here – and you may want to think (more than) twice about going for a dentist just because he or she offers the lowest dental treatment rates – your smile and your overall dental health will depend on this intelligent and well-thought of decision!

Going for NHS or Private Dentistry?

When choosing a dentist, you have an option to go for a NHS dentist, or one who has a private dentistry practice. Generally speaking, most private dentistry dental practices also offer NHS dental treatments, although you will need to verify this information with your chosen dentistry practice beforehand to be able to make the best decisions regarding your dental health care. Dentists are required to offer their general dentistry treatments to patients who are registered under the NHS; cosmetic dentistry treatments, on the other hand, can be done under private dentistry as they are not covered by the NHS.

You can combine the best of both worlds, or in this case – the best of NHS and private dentistry – to be able to get the best dental health care possible. You can have the general dentistry treatments necessary to keep your teeth, mouth, gums, and overall dental health in the best possible form through NHS; other, more specialised dental treatments (such as those that fall under cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics) can be done through private dentistry practices.

It is important to note that you may not be eligible anymore for NHS treatment if you have not seen an NHS dentist for treatment or a dental checkup within the last 15 months, or if your previous NHS dentist has opted to go for a full private practice. Not everyone is eligible for NHS treatment that is totally free of charges – if you are not exempted from NHS dental charges, you may be required to pay for 80% of the NHS dental treatment cost. It is also crucial to clarify with your dentist if the dental treatment that you will have will be under the NHS, or will be charged under private dentistry.

Getting familiar with the list of dental treatments that can be done under the NHS will greatly benefit your dental health needs, and will help you in maximising the benefits of getting NHS dentistry treatments. A personal dental treatment plan can be provided to give you a clear idea on how much each specific dental treatment costs (and which treatments can be done under the NHS) – so you can also prepare for the financial aspect of getting the proper dental health care that you need.

How to Choose a Private Dentist

Choosing a private dentist will require you to do your research, and may also need your patience, as well as creativity (in getting the information that you need, and in determining if the private dentist would provide the “best fit” for your specific dental health care needs).

1.Determine your specific dental health care needs first, before you start getting in touch with private dentists. For example – if you need to have orthodontic work done, you can make your search more productive and a lot easier by searching for private dentists who specialise in orthodontics; this will save you a lot of time, effort, and expenses because you will know beforehand that your needs can be answered by the private dentist that you choose. On the other hand, of location is your main concern, then you can narrow down your search by your local area – so that you will not have to travel far to get the dental health attention that you need.

2.Ask your friends, relatives, or colleagues for recommendations on private dentistry practices that they go to. The first-hand information that you will get from these actual patients/clients will be valuable when you make your decision on what private dentistry practice to go to; the information that you get from actual clients/patients will also give you a clear idea on what to expect from these specific dental practices.

3.Go online and search for a private dentistry practice in your local area in the This is Dentistry website. This dental directory allows you to search for local dentists who specialise in dental treatments that you are specifically interested in. You can also do the search through your local phone directory, which will give you the contact details of the private dentistry practices in your area.

4.Start calling or getting in touch with the private dentistry practices that you have narrowed down your list to. You can start by calling them to ask for more detailed information; some of the questions that can give you a clearer idea on what to expect from a private dentistry practice are:

•What are their office/clinic hours?
•Do they offer emergency treatment?
•Do they charge a registration fee apart from the initial consultation fee?
•Are they up to date with the latest dentistry technology/facilities?
•Do they have a dental accreditation programme, or a quality assurance programme?
•Can they provide you with a sample price list with a comprehensive listing of the dental treatments they offer, with the corresponding prices?

5.Whenever possible, you should visit the private dentistry practice to get a feel of the facilities, the atmosphere, and the level of service that they provide. It will also be beneficial for you to talk with the dentist to determine if you can be comfortable around him or her, and if you can communicate without any problems – communication will be crucial in getting the dental health care that you need and deserve in the future!

6.Ask the dentist what treatment options and alternative are available for your specific dental concern, and do not hesitate to ask for the corresponding treatment prices to go with this information. You can then use the treatment options and prices to compare with the information that you will get from other dentists/private dental practices, so you can ultimately choose the private dentistry practice that will give you the best deal in all aspects. Think of this step as shopping around, or (dentistry/dental) window shopping!

Private Dentistry Payment Options

Direct Payments – Direct payments can be done after each treatment, with the payments settled for each specific treatment and for every item that was undertaken.

Dental Insurance Policies – Dental insurance policies provide coverage for the private dental treatment, up to a specified or set cost limit; some dental insurance policies also provide coverage for NHS dental treatments. You will be provided with a bill listing all the items included and costs incurred after your treatment, which will give you comprehensive information on what the whole treatment has included.

Capitation Schemes – These are fixed monthly payments to be made on a regular basis, based on the expected level and cost of dental treatment.

What to do When You Are Not Satisfied with the Results

If you are not satisfied with the results of the dental treatment, or if you have some concerns regarding the service that you received, do not hesitate to freely communicate your issues with your dentist. A written formal complaint can also be forwarded to the private dental practice if your concerns are not met satisfactorily even after you have talked to your dentist.

You can also get in touch with the General Dental Council or the Dental Complaints Service if you feel that your dentist, dental therapist, or dental hygienist have not been able to give you the resolution that you need; the Dental Complaints Service is responsible for looking into the issues and concerns raised against private dental practices in the UK. If, for some reason, you do not get the attention or resolution that you are seeking from the dental practice or from the Dental Complaints Service, you can take the matter to the courts – you can get guidance on how to go about this step by getting in touch with Consumer Direct (for Great Britain) or Consumerline (for Northern Ireland).

You can always change your dentist if you feel that your dental health care needs are not met or satisfied – it is your right to go to a dentist who will best serve your dental health care needs. You can ask for copies of your personal dental records, dental x-rays and other information that you may need when transferring to another dental practice; obtaining these records and information is your right, under the Data Protection Act 1998.

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