A critical component in avoiding dental malpractice is the right selection of a dentist for you and/or your family. The criteria use by patients looking for a dentist is sometimes not the best. Amazing how many patients select their health care professionals based on their insurance and its coverage. Don’t get me wrong…..fees are important, but if you select your dentist on insurance alone, this can lead to trouble. Always remember, dental insurance has nothing to do with dental health. Insurance is a business agreement between your employer and an insurance company. The insurance company doesn’t care about your dental health.
What would I look in a dental provider:
1. Graduated from a good dental school.
2. Has at least five years of experience. While recent graduates can pass all the tests and licensing boards they lack the clinical experience and judgment of someone who has been in practice for a longer period of time. What I discovered when I entered into private practice is that dental school only prepares you to learn. And learn I did for the first year. It was a real eye opener for me. This is not to say you can’t use a dentist who is fresh out of school. You can. But if you have a complicated case or dental difficulties you should look for a dentist with more clinical experience.
3. A dentist who has communication skills. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and talk to the dental office about questions you have regarding the potential dentist. You should always feel free to discuss your overall health and dental help with your dentist.
4. Check with the state board to see if any actions have been taken against the dentist. I’m not talking about complaints which have been lodged, but if a complaint was made and the board took action because the standard of care was violated.
5. Just as important, but not the sole determinant, is recommendations from friends or family. Did they have a good experience? But remember…your friends and family cannot always evaluate the competence of your dentist.
Next time I will discuss the initial dental exam and what it should include to meet the standard of care.
As always feel free to post or send any dental questions you might have on your mind.