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Tips for finding the right dentist

Few patients look forward to dental visits. In fact, 32 percent of Americans haven't seen their dentist in the past year and a half, and that number continues to rise. 

This trend can have worrying implications, and not just for the brightness of your smile. Regular dental visits can help avoid serious health complications. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, there is a relationship between gum (periodontal) disease and health complications such as stroke and heart disease. Women with gum disease also show higher incidences of pre-term, low birth-weight babies.

A trip to the dentist does not have to create the anxiety and stress most Americans experience. If you find yourself constantly rescheduling your dental appointments or dreading your annual check-up, it might be time to find a new provider. 

Unfortunately, many patients don't know the elements that make up a strong dental practice, or even that practices can differ significantly in the quality of service offered. 

A common starting place is to ask friends and family about their dental experiences. Ideally, you should ask those whose smiles you admire. Asking questions such as how often they visit their dentist, how long they have seen them and what their average experience is like can help you determine the criteria that is most important to you in a dentist-patient relationship. 

Be wary of any answers you receive that highlight the person's own inexperience with other dental practices. Answers such as "I've seen him forever" or "he/she is the best I've ever had" may seem  like strong endorsements, but can also speak to lack of knowledge about other practices. Unfortunately, because we all have our own personal expectations with our dentist, recommendations from friends and family can only go so far. 

It is also important to avoid relying on "800" numbers that promise to put you into contact with nearby dentists. Generally, dentists will pay to get on these lists and receive strong recommendations. 

Certain factors also need to be considered before diving into the search. The location of the practice can be often be a cause of frustration. Would you prefer a practice near your home or near your work? If you already are hesitant to go to the dentist, a location that is too far out of the way can provide you with extra motivation to cancel your next appointment. 

Patient Approved helps patients find their ideal dentist by exploring current and previous patients' perspectives. This makes comparing different practices simple and convenient. Factors such as ease of making an appointment, courteous staff members and the cleanliness of facilities can all be weighed alongside a dentist's own skill and training to ensure a great fit.