It is important to find someone whom you can go back to for your regular dental checks and whom you can approach whenever you encounter any oral problems. Here are some tips to help you find the right dentist
1. Does the dentist communicate well with you?
This is perhaps the most important factor you should consider. Can your dentist explain the treatment to you? Are you encouraged to ask questions about your dental treatment? Dental care is as much about the dentist as it is about you. Does your dentist ask you your opinions about how you want to be treated?
2. Is your dentist able to carry out the treatment well?
There are many types of dentists – general dentists, cosmetic dentists, oral surgeons, root canal specialists, pediatric (children’s) dentists, gums specialists, and orthodontists (braces), just to name a few. Whether you need a specialist or a generalist depends on how complex is the treatment you need.
Most treatment can be done by a general dentist. Furthermore, there are many general dentists who have developed further skills in treatment areas that they have a special interest in.
Of course, if your condition is too complex, a good general dentist will refer you to the appropriate specialist.
So how do you find out what you need?
That’s exactly where a general dentist’s advice is helpful.
Check out this page for a list of common dental procedures. Find out as much as you can on the internet and through friends, but remember that your friends can only give general information. To find out exactly what is right for you and your situation, you need to go on to the next step…
3. Get a consultation
After you have narrowed down your list, go see the dentist(s) in person. Book yourself an appointment for a consultation. At the consultation, ask as many questions as you have and note how the dentist handles them (remember tip number 1!). The right dentist will make you feel comfortable by giving you all the information you need, including the benefits and risks of treatment, as well as a cost estimate. Be prepared to pay a consultation fee – you are receiving professional advice. However, don’t feel pressured to go ahead with treatment. A dentist who hard sells you is not the right one.
4. Go for the simpler treatments first
If you need a few things to be done and like what you see at the consultation, but are not completely sure yet, try getting the simpler treatment done first. This lets you experience treatment at the hands of the dentist without committing to the whole treatment plan. A good way to start is with a scaling and polishing. It may be simple, but how a dentist does it reflects how meticulous he is and how much pride he puts in his work. Proceed with the other treatment if you like the initial session.
5. About the money…
Cheapest is not always the best. A dentist who rushes to complete treatment may charge a lower fee, but you won’t feel a sense of ownership or control over the treatment plan. You may not even know what he did for you. Go for the dentist who takes the time to explain things to you – you may pay a little more, but at least you’ll know what you are paying for. And he’s more likely to do a good, rather than a rushed, job. Of course, don’t be shy of getting a second opinion and quotation from another clinic to compare prices. Just be sure you are comparing like with like. For example, a denture can be either made of plastic or metal (which is more expensive). Clarify with the dentist before you make any comparison.
A word about getting quotes over E-mail. In Singapore, the Ministry of Health does not allow doctors to offer a consultation, including giving an estimate of treatment fees with patients who are not registered with the clinic. A dentist can only give advice to a patient who has actually been examined in a clinical setting. That’s only sensible, the dentist must assess the nature of your problem, understand your priorities, and the limitations of your time, budget, etc, before offering any professional advice.
6. Should you see a dentist or orthodontist for braces treatment?
General dentists can practise all aspects of dentistry in Singapore, which includes braces.
Most dentists who offer braces treatment locally have undergone a 1 – 3 year part time training course in orthodontics. Some even hold certificates and diplomas in orthodontics from overseas universities. This training not only enables dentists to treat simple and moderate cases, but also allows them to recognise the more complex ones. These complex cases are referred to, and seen by orthodontists. It’s worth noting that a general dentist who offers you braces treatment, even if only for simple cases, is expected to do it to the same level as a specialist.
You can check out this post written by Dr T C Phua to find out more about
choosing a dentist in Singapore for braces treatment.
It’s worth it! At the end of your search, when you find a dentist that is right for you, the rapport and confidence you feel with your dentist has a healing value on its own.