Dentists have an impact on your oral and overall health.

Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is vital to your ability to speak, eat, and express yourself properly; we have a variety of expressions that involve showing our teeth—including a wide variety of smiles that express different emotions—so a healthy, complete smile has a pretty large impact on our confidence. Did you know, however, that your oral health also has a lasting impact on your overall health? “Your dental health is such a vital part of your overall health,” says Dr. Cathy Taylor-Osborne, an ADA dentist and director of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment’s Bureau of Oral Health, “so it’s important for every patient to have a dental home.”

This revelation makes finding the best dentist for you even more important. You might find yourself asking, “How do I find a reliable dentist for my dental treatment?” or even “What should I look for in choosing a dentist?” If you’re a little unsure of where to start, here are some factors you’ll likely need to consider when finding the best dentist.

Distance

When you’re just beginning your search, it’s important to decide how far you’re willing to travel from your home or work to get to dental appointments. If you have kids, you may even want to factor in the distance from their school. Simply think about which location you’ll likely be traveling to the dentist from most often, or try to focus on an area that’s between your points of interest. This will prevent you from spending valuable time researching an office that ends up being more of a commute than you’d like.

Affordability

Before you spend too much time looking at reviews or visiting the office, you’ll also want to consider the affordability of each office on your list. Does each one accept your insurance? What additional financing options does each office accept to help you afford the treatment you need? Whether or not you have traditional insurance, some dental offices offer smile clubs, where you pay a yearly membership fee and gain access to free twice-yearly checkups and regular X-rays, as well as access to discounts for other treatments.

Our office accepts CareCredit, a leading credit card designed to help patients pay for health care; many patients are able to pay for their treatment over a six-, 12-, or 18-month period with absolutely no interest. This makes it much easier to pay for the treatment you need without blowing your budget or worrying about compounding interest.

Bookable

It’s also wise to look into how bookable each dental office is—and not just in the long term. You want an office that will work with your needs to get you an appointment when you need it; this is easy to do if you’re making an appointment six months out, but life doesn’t always work that way. How willing and able is the staff to get you in for a last-minute appointment? You should also look into their policy for dental emergencies. Some dental emergencies can wait a day or two for the office to open, but others—such as knocking a tooth out—require immediate attention. So check each dentist’s website or call and ask about their policy, as well as if they have a number you can call in a true dental emergency, so you can get immediate treatment.

Experienced

Experience is an important factor for any medical profession, and it’s the same for dentists. You can look up the experience of each dentist you’re considering online, but an experienced staff is just as important, so look at each office’s staff bios as well. Once you have narrowed down your list of potential dentists to your two or three favorites, you may want to schedule appointments to speak with them. Ask them more specific questions about their experience, as well as what classes they have taken to continue their education and stay up-to-date on the latest dental practices and technologies.

Comprehensive Care

It’s usually best to focus on dentists who offer comprehensive dental care. This means they focus on treating all aspects of your smile—not just the health of your teeth and gums, but the health of your bite, the joint of your jaw, and even the appearance of your smile. Dentists who provide comprehensive dentistry can provide nearly all of your dental health needs in one place, from regular evaluations to dental implants, veneers, and even treatments for TMJ pain. Many even practice pediatric dentistry, so your entire family can get treated by the same staff and dentists you already know and trust.

Technology

Technology is constantly improving and bringing new or improved treatments to dentistry. You may want to examine what kind of technology each dentist uses to diagnose and treat patients. How cutting-edge is it? How does it compare to other dental offices in your area? Most dental offices have switched to digital X-rays, for example, so it’s almost a bad sign if an office hasn’t; digital X-rays provide an image instantly and expose you to less radiation than film-based X-rays.

In addition to digital X-rays, our office uses a range of dental technologies to make your treatment easier and more comfortable than ever. Dentists who use cutting-edge technologies are definitely keeping themselves up-to-date on the latest dental practices and breakthroughs, so you can rest assured you’ll get the best care—all while likely making your visits faster and more enjoyable.

Atmosphere

While the practical aspects of a dental office certainly play a huge role in which office you choose, finding the best dentist and staff who create a friendly, welcoming atmosphere and treat each patient with kindness and respect is just as important. In addition to making your experience at the dentist more positive and enjoyable, a friendly staff is much more likely to enjoy their work, and therefore, they’re more likely to put more effort into it. A friendly staff is especially important if you have kids; the dentist can already be intimidating or downright scary for them, so a staff who is friendly and patient with your children can make a world of difference, putting them at ease and helping build positive associations with the dentist who will benefit your children for their entire lives, whether they realize it or not.

Finding the best dentist — someone skilled and compassionate does require you to invest a little bit of time into the search, but the results are definitely worth it. Hopefully, the dentist you choose will help you and your family maintain your oral and overall health for years and will help you be more aware of the many ways you can improve your oral health. Planning on finding the best dentist in Wayland? Feel free to call our office at any time with questions or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Sexton.

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