Choosing a Dentist in Omaha
If you’re a millennial, you might be lucky enough to have twenty dentists to choose from—or unlucky, depending on how you look at it. It can be so confusing! What falls under the nebulous term “general dentistry”? And why do so many general dentists also do things that specialists do? Do dentists push you into things you don’t need? Should you find a general or a cosmetic dentist? What’s a periodontist? Do you even need to care about all this?
It turns out, a little. A touch of research goes a long way. Here’s a little guide to help you find the best dentist near you.
What is a general dentist?
The term “general” varies a lot. For some people, it means, “We clean teeth.” For us, it means we take a comprehensive approach to your oral healthcare. Did you know that the muscles you use for chewing need to be examined for potential problems, especially if you get headaches or jaw soreness? What about the soft tissues of the oral cavity? Did you know they might hold telltale signs of preventable diseases (preventable especially if they are caught early)! What about the fact that 50% of adults suffer from periodontal disease, but many don’t know they have it? Or that oral cancer, fatal in almost a third of cases, is preventable if it’s diagnosed in its beginning stages and is treated quickly? What’s more, dentists are the first in line to detect oral cancer because they are the most familiar with what healthy (and unhealthy) gums and teeth look like.
You don’t want a dentist to just clean your teeth. You want the best dentist that cares about your overall health and knows how to diagnose, treat, and prevent common dental and dental-related health problems (and not so common ones, as well).
I don’t even have kids. Do I need to think about kid’s dentistry?
It’s actually a good idea to think about seeing the best dentist who is good with kids before you have kids. If you ever do have kids, you won’t have to find a separate dentist for your child and take an extra day off work to meet them. Also, you’ll already have a relationship with your dentist and will have had plenty of time to assess whether you trust them enough to touch your kid’s teeth. You won’t have to deal with two different dental philosophies (yes, that actually is a thing). On top of that, as your children grow, they won’t have to leave their trusted family dentist. Comprehensive family dentists can take care of the whole family—and knowing that is a good feeling!
All I need is a filling.
If your dentist is limited to cleanings and fillings, they may or may not be a good fit for you. Unfortunately, inexperienced dentists may not see potential problems. A dentist who can see these problems can prevent a lot of trouble and save you a lot of money. It’s better to have a dentist who’s experienced with the basics of cosmetic and restorative dentistry, so you know you’re in good hands when these things crop up—like they do for most people eventually! It can be frustrating when you want to talk about straightening your teeth or a lost tooth and your dentist refers you to another specialist. That’s why we’re such believers in comprehensive dentistry. Try to find a dentist who can handle wisdom teeth removal, root canal therapy, periodontal therapy, and oral cancer screening. Having a dentist who refers you out to other specialists less often means more care in less time and with more expertise. And you’ll save some miles on your car, as well.
I want my dentist to be up-to-date with the latest tech.
Consider how much technology matters to you. Dental procedures, like crowns and implants, change rapidly from year to year. There’s always a more convenient and more comfortable way to do the same procedure each year or every few years. If having a dentist that is up-to-date with the latest advances in their field matters to you, try investigating whether they use digital imaging or digital intraoral cameras. Things like CEREC® machines and Cone Beam 3D Imaging dramatically change the procedures you will need in your life. These types of technologies matter a lot to the comfort and accuracy of your diagnoses and treatments. (We’ve put together a list of some of the things we use to make your experience one of the most comfortable and advanced available).
I am scared of the dentist.
So many people hesitate to get the care they need because of fear of pain and discomfort. You want to research the comfort options your potential dentist has to see if they are a good fit for you. Dentists should be compassionate and willing to talk you through the options with respect and patience.
Beyond local anesthesia, some dentists offer various types of sedation. This makes complicated procedures so much easier for patients, as they can eliminate the factor of fear from their decision-making process.
I want a dentist I can afford.
Here’s a secret: If you’re not happy with your insurance or you are uninsured, some dentists offer membership plans that can help you afford your care. Often, for less than the price of insurance, you are able to get two preventive hygiene appointments a year, X-rays, and a significant discount off of most cosmetic or restorative procedures (including fillings). This is a great alternative to insurance, and many patients find it a desirable option. Check with your local dentist to see if they have a membership plan to help you afford your dental care.
So how do I find the best dentist near me?
Talk to your friends for referrals. Ask on local Facebook groups where soliciting is allowed, then follow up on the suggestions by looking at their website and online reviews. Ask your doctor for a referral. If you’re moving to a new area and you like your current dentist, ask them if they know anyone who’ll be the best dentist or, if not, what to look for.
How you are made to feel is one of the biggest factors that will affect your happiness with your dental practice over time. Do they make you feel like a valued patient when you call to ask about scheduling an appointment? Do they listen to your questions or make you feel like they are too busy to chat about your oral health? Do they return your calls and allow you to request an appointment online? If they have all the latest technologies and are open at convenient times but don’t treat you the way you want to be treated, then, ultimately, you will not be happy at that practice.
Comfortable, advanced, convenient, and friendly—these are a few of the top things you need to look for in a dentist to make sure you feel welcomed to stay in the long run. Switching dentists is not fun, partly because you usually have to pay for X-rays with every new dentist! It’s worth the extra research and a few phone calls to make sure you get a good fit the first time.
If you have already chosen a dentist but still have questions, talk to us! We might be the fit you’re looking for.