Maintaining your oral health is an important part of managing your overall wellness. While regular brushing and flossing is an integral part of this process, the best way to ward off most oral disease is by visiting a licensed dentist licensed dentist every six months.
Fortunately with advances in online scheduling and patient management resources’, making an appointment with a dentist is easier than ever. However, for those of you who prefer to know the process “step by step”, we here at Celebrity Smiles & General Dentistry offer this helpful guide to make sure your first visit goes smoothly.
Step 1: How to find a local dentist?
There is a big difference between having a dentist and have the RIGHT dentist. Having the right dentist for you will set the tone for the duration of your treatment and will save you from many headaches.
- First contact your insurance company and ask if you are REQUIRED to see a doctor in their network. If you are, they can provide you with a list of professionals in your area. If you are not required to see a doctor in your network, and want to find the best doctor for you, you can begin to branch your search out.
- Ask family and friends if they can recommend a dentist to you.
- Use online search engines (Google, Bing, etc.) to locate a doctor in your general location. For instance, we would search: “General Dentist in Westmont Illinois” or “Dentist near me”.
- Read reviews of dentists online. Yelp has been widely regarded as a fairly accurate “customer review portal” and many people use that to get the inside scoop on dentist. Also, most dental practices are on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.); you can find a lot of good information by viewing their pages.
Step 2: How to decide which local dentist(s) are right for you
Sometimes, people have very specific reasons for why they want to visit a dentist. It is important for you to identify your unique reason before deciding on an oral health care professional.
- Limit the dental offices down to being a manageable driving distance from you. If your dentist office is convenient to locate and get to, it will make it more likely that you keep your appointments, thereby keeping you healthier!
- Go to the doctors (or dental office’s) web page or social media accounts; determine if they treat the condition you are looking to address if you are going in for something specific. If you are going to just to get a regular check-up or cleaning, you can check the same sources to see if the office looks clean, the staff looks friendly, patients seem happy (in testimonials), etc. These will all be good indicators of how satisfied you will be with their care.
- Develop a list of three “finalists” that match your criteria. Make sure to write down their contact information. Number one should be your favorite, the other two are there only if you decide to not go with your first pick for some reason, but the chances are very good that you will go with your initial choice.
Step 3: How to schedule a dentist appointment – Part One
Although it is now becoming common to submit a request for an appointment through a dental practices website, we recommend calling the office in person. You will receive information quicker and your appointment will be scheduled properly, with less confusion for you or the dental staff.
- Call the top favorite dentist on the list you compiled in the previous step.
- When the receptionist answers, ask if they are accepting new patients at the moment. If they are, continue to number 3. If they aren’t, then move to your second favorite dentist on the list and begin again.
- Give the receptionist your basic information, including anything pertaining to your insurance. If at any point during the conversation you get the feeling that they cannot help you: thank them, hang up, and call the next office. You should not have to “settle” when it comes to your health care.
- Inform the staff member of any concerns you have, or existing dental issues that you are currently experiencing. Also, let them know if you have a fear of the dentist. I know, it may be embarrassing to admit, but it is actually very common and that information will assist the dentist with treating you.
Step 3: How to schedule a dentist appointment – Part Two
Now that you have had some of your questions answered by the receptionist, you can make the decision if you want to be a patient of theirs or not. There is no problem choosing another doctor if you are still unsure if they can treat you properly.
- Once you are satisfied with your decision of dental practice, you can begin to set your appointment . First, decide on a day and time that work best for you. Our personal recommendation is to choose something in the morning since those times are typically the least busy. This will help to limit the amount of time you wait for the doctor to be free.
- After you let the staff member know what approximate day and time works for you, they will let you know if the doctor’s schedule can accommodate you. After a little back and forth, you should come to a date and time that is suitable for everyone involved.
- Reminder: Be calm and courteous. There is a good chance that you will not be able to get the precise day/time you want. That is due to the fact that the doctor already booked patients in the other available timeslots before you even called. It’s nothing personal.
- Make sure the receptionist is aware of the reason for your visit. This will aid them in reserving an appropriate amount of time you have with the doctor making sure your visit is relaxed and unrushed.
- Keep your appointment, and show up early for initial consultations. There may be a questionnaire that you have to fill out before seeing the doctor, make sure you allow yourself enough time to complete it before your appointment is scheduled to happen.
Step 4 (Bonus): What to do if you can’t make a dental appointment
In the off-chance that you contact every dentist on your list, and still cannot find someone willing and/or able to treat you, you still have options.
- Call a dental practice that was on your list of “favorites” and ask for a referral to another dentist they partner with. Most practices are happy to help you even if you aren’t being seen by them personally.
- Broaden your search radius. Unfortunately, you may have no other option other than expanding the amount of travel you are willing to work with. Check communities that are a little further from you in order to find the best medical care for you.
- Consult with (even more) family and friends to find a referral. Ask around and rely on the advice from the people you care about.
- Go further into the search engine results. If it takes you scrolling through 5 pages of search results to find the appropriate doctor, then do it, you will be grateful.