How do I find a dentist near me?
The importance of choosing the right local dentist
For many people, choosing the right dentist is probably one of those mundane tasks that doesn’t necessarily occupy much time in our day-to-day busy lives. We probably have the view that dentistry is a commodity without much differentiation amongst practices and it really doesn’t matter which dental practice you visit. Or alternatively, we don’t even consider the importance of finding the right dentist and defer to the “dentist we grew up with” mentality.
The reality is that finding the right dental practice for both you and your family can make the difference between healthy long-term oral care or unnecessary bills and long hours in the dental chair. We come across many patients at Fulham Road Dental that have come to us after having received poor dental treatment elsewhere. Unfortunately, corrective care can be time-consuming and often involve considerable additional expense. We at Fulham Road Dental always advise our patients (both new and existing) to do the appropriate research ahead of time to ensure that they receive the best possible care. The industry is changing rapidly in all areas and it’s important that patients are aware of these improvements in clinical care.
Below are a couple of simple things you can do to evaluate whether a dental practice is suitable for you:
Search Engines Results for Dentistry and Treatment Keywords
A good starting point when considering making a dental appointment is internet search engines. Using search terms like “dentist near me” or “dental emergency” is a good starting point. Search engines do a great job of ranking dental practices in the search results. Most people are probably not aware of the effort and investment required to achieve top-of-page ranking for a dental website. It requires a coherent marketing strategy and relevant content production over a long period of time to achieve the highest rankings. If the practice is putting that much effort into its marketing strategy it is most likely also investing a significant amount of resources in other parts of its business and team (e.g. culture, training, technology, etc.).
Reviews by popular review platforms are also a way to see how engaged the practice’s patients are with providing feedback on their dental experience. Don’t just base your decision on the number of stars the review has but instead read what patients have to say and how personal they have made their comments. And most importantly see whether the practice responded and thanked the patient for the time taken to do the review. It’s that type of attention to detail that really gives one insight into the practice’s culture and the value it places on the entire patient experience.
Dental Practice Website and Social Media
The dental practice website is essentially a representation of the practice’s values, brand, and culture. Spend time on the website and make sure that the website has been designed with patients in mind. Many practice websites read like they have been written by dentists for dentists and use terminology that is very technical and confusing to patients. Instead, make sure that the website has been designed with the patient in mind using patient-friendly terminology. Providing a memorable patient journey is critical in any service-orientated business and dentistry is no exception. Many times the patient journey starts with a visit to the website. If that part of the patient journey isn’t well presented then it is likely that the rest of the journey won’t improve. If you are viewing the website on a smartphone make sure that the practice has taken the necessary steps to make it mobile-friendly. If the practice owners have this attention to detail imagine what great things they can do with your teeth!
Providing a great start to the patient journey extends beyond just having a patient-friendly website. A well-designed social media profile (e.g. Instagram) can go a long way towards demonstrating what patients should expect to experience on the day of their visit. Comfortable seating, coffee, cold water, wifi, TV screens for movies during treatment, etc. are a great way to create that differentiated patient experience. If the practice has invested in these “experiences” then they are very likely to be displayed on their social media profile.
Dentist Referral Treatments
Certain practices have a specialist dental team that focuses on referral work from other dental practices. These are usually complicated dental procedures that require a specialist clinician to treat. Earning a reputation as a referral practice that has the respect of other dental practices to treat and return their patients safely and healthily is something that is earned over time through providing great clinical and patient care. A practice that has made the investment in providing referral dental care has been able to assemble a team of clinicians with the training, experience and technology to provide this level of patient care.
Great before and after photos will also give you a good sense of the type of cosmetic dentistry work the practice offers. However, the best way to review the cosmetic abilities of the individual dentists is to review their work on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Many dentists spend a significant amount of time sharing their work on social media and this is a great way to evaluate the type of results they are capable of delivering. Read the comments that fellow dentists post. Nothing like seeing your dentist being complimented by his contemporaries.
Dental Equipment & Technology
The emergence of new technologies in the field of dentistry is leading to improvements in treatments that lead the clinicians to have materials and procedures able to improve patients’ quality of life. Most practices that have made the investment in the technology available will make it clear in their patient communication.
Examples include 3D intraoral scanners that provide more accurate results, quicker patient treatment time and do away with the need for traditional impressions that can be very uncomfortable. An investment in a CBCT scanner (Cone Beam Computed Tomography) provides the practice with a state-of-the-art scanning machine that is used to produce precise, high-resolution 3D images of a patient’s mouth including the teeth, jaws, soft tissue and bones. These high-level images are produced using a very low level of radiation and can provide results comparable with medical CT scans. There are many examples of investment in technology the practice has made and these are sure to be displayed either on the practice website or social media profiles so be on the lookout for them.
As can be seen, there are simple and easy-to-use tools to really do your due diligence on your dental practice to make sure that you are receiving the best possible treatment for both you and your family. Finding the right local dentist isn’t about the next appointment. It’s about building a long-term relationship that provides you with the best oral care advice.