What to Ask Your Dentist
About the Dentist:
- Are you a licensed and board certified dentist?
A dentist becomes licensed by a state when he or she passes both national and state examinations. Board certification is acquired when a dentist passes an examination that is administered by a specific board recognized by the American Dental Association.
- How long have you been in practice?
The number of years a dentist has been in practice does not always guarantee the quality of their work; but generally speaking, it does indicate how much “hands on” experience they’ve had.
- What dental procedures do you specialize in?
Dentists can specialize in specific areas of dentistry by going through two additional years of training after they receive either their doctor of dental surgery (DDS) degree or doctor of dental medicine (DMD) degree.
- Are you a member of any professional dental associations such as the American Dental Association (ADA) or the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD)?
The American Dental Association is the oldest and largest dental authority in the United States. Dentists who are members of the ADA are currently being updated on the latest news and trends in dental techniques and equipment. The ADA is also the foremost authority on the safety and specifications of dental products. The organization also endorses specialty dental boards, responsible for administering board examinations. The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) is a separate organization, dedicated maintaining the highest standards in cosmetic dentistry through educational opportunities for its members and ongoing research in the field.
- How do you keep updated on the latest in general and cosmetic techniques/technology?
There are a number of ways a dentist can stay on top of advancements in general and cosmetic dentistry. The most common ways of staying current include subscriptions to industry journals as well as professional memberships.
- Have you taken any post graduate or continued education courses in the last year?
Although it is not mandatory, most general and cosmetic dentists hone their skills through advanced courses offered through accredited universities and institutes nationwide. One of the most prestigious centers for continued education is the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies.
About the Procedure:
- What procedure(s) would offer me the best and longest lasting results?
Generally, dental conditions can be remedied by multiple treatment options, which vary in their results, longevity of results and price. However, there is usually one procedure that will offer the best, long term results. At a thorough consultation, your dentist should explain why this treatment is the best option and provide average price points for those financing the procedure or paying out of pocket.
- What are my alternatives and the pros/cons associated with each?
There are a number of different reasons to ask for alternative dental treatments. Some of these reasons include: How long the procedure takes, its level of invasiveness, and cost. At a thorough consultation, your dental specialist should outline a number of treatments options available, provide the pros and cons of each and offer price and payment information.
- How long will the procedure take to perform?
At a consultation, your dentist should inform you of how long you can expect the entire procedure to last, from start to finish.
- Will I experience any pain during the procedure? If so, what can be done?
Whether general or cosmetic, some dental procedures are virtually painless, while others require an anesthetic of some sort. The most common types of anesthesia used in the dental industry include local (topical numbing agents and injectable anesthetics such as Novocain), sedatives (anti-anxiety agents such as nitrous oxide and intravenous sedation) or in rarer cases, general (intravenous or inhaled anesthesia resulting in the complete loss of consciousness).
Typically, general anesthesia is used during tooth extractions, long or complicated procedures or for patients who cannot control their movement, such as children or patients with disabilities. Dentists who administer general anesthesia must have a special permit from the state, based on that dentist’s training. The dentist is usually accompanied by licensed and trained personnel who monitor a patient under general anesthesia.
- What are the possible side effects of this procedure?
Some procedures cause minor side effects, such as a dull ache or gum sensitivity. More invasive procedures cause longer, more intense pain or discomfort and require over-the-counter or prescribed pain medication. During a consultation, the dental specialist will inform you of what to expect after your procedure and whether you will require a prescription.
- Will I have to come back for multiple treatment sessions or follow up visits?
Some general and cosmetic dental procedures can be completed in one visit, while others require you to come back for “sessions.” For extensive cosmetic surgery procedures, moulds often need to be made of your upper and lower teeth and the materials are hand crafted and customized to fit your smile.
- Will any special oral care be required after the procedure?
Your dentist should inform you of any changes you will need to make concerning your oral care regimen, as well as any dental care products you will need to use. Most products can either be purchased over-the-counter, or are available by prescription. A dentist office may also have samples to give you.
- If I’m paying out of pocket, what are your terms and conditions for payment?
Dental offices have different conditions for accepting out of pocket payments from their patients. You should ask if you will be required to put a certain percentage down and pay the rest in installments, or if full payment is expected up front. Most dental offices try to work with their patients as much as possible and have a number of payment options available.
- Are there any incentives for paying upfront?
Some dental offices offer a discount incentive for patients paying for the full amount of the procedure up front.
- If I’m having multiple dental procedures done, will I get a discount?
If you are undergoing an extensive treatment plan, some dentists may give you a discount on the total price. In some instances, they may offer less expensive cosmetic procedures such as BriteSmile or Laser Teeth Whitening free of charge or at a discounted price. Remember, it never hurts to ask about incentives!
- Does insurance normally cover this procedure?
A dentist should be able to tell you if the procedure he or she recommends is typically covered by insurance.
- What insurance carriers do you work with?
A member of the office staff will be able to provide you with a list of insurance carriers accepted at that particular office.
- Will you submit a claim to my insurance carrier even if they are not in your network?
If your dentist does not work with your insurance, it is important to ask whether the office will still submit a claim to your insurance company. Depending on your carrier and policy, you may be reimbursed for the maximum amount you are entitled to under your plan.
- What are my financing options and how do I apply?
A dental office should provide you with a list of outside dental finance sources and guide you through the entire application process.
- What are the terms for financing a dental procedure with the lenders you work with?
Most dental offices will be able to tell you the conditions of most lenders they work with. If not, they should provide you with the contact information and resources you’ll need to do the research on your own.