the Australian Dental Association
Written by the Australian Dental Association, Jun 16, 2022
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What should you look for when deciding on a dentist? And once you have paid them a visit, how should you reflect on the experience?

Starting point

Your dentist should be thought of as your partner in looking after your teeth, gums, and mouth as you should be seeing them on a regular basis over the years to come.

You should approach finding a dentist as a long-term proposition. Seeing the same dentist over a long period of time provides you with "continuity of care" where your dentist knows your history of dental treatment which cannot be matched by regularly changing dentists.

One great way to begin your search is the ADA's Find-a-Dentist search engine which locates ADA member dentists near you. Word of mouth is also a great tool. Ask your friends and family that are happy with their dental practitioner for a recommendation. If you are moving towns, ask your existing dentist if there is a dentist they can recommend in your new location.

Everybody has the right to choose their own dentist. This choice should not be compromised by private health insurers who seek to convince their customers to use their contracted or 'preferred provider' dentists.

What to look for

Depending on your priorities, there are a few points to keep in mind.

  • Are their office hours suitable? Do you require a dentist that is open outside the usual 9 to 5 business hours?
  • Is it close to public transport or have adequate parking? Is the practice disability friendly?
  • Are you looking for a dental practitioner that participates in government schemes such as the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS) or the Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Scheme?
  • Is it an accredited dental practice? This is not mandatory but having practice accreditation does indicate that the dental clinic has worked hard to meet a set of internationally recognised healthcare standards.
  • Are you looking for a dental practitioner that specialises in a particular treatment or area of dentistry?

During your first visit

During your first dentist visit, there are some factors you may wish to consider. 

  • Was the dental practice clean and hygienic?
  • Did it appear well-run and inviting?
  • Were the dentist and the staff friendly and approachable to you and each other?
  • Were they able to provide information about fees, appointments and available treatments?
  • Did the dentist explain what would happen during the appointment and/or explain what they were doing during the procedure? Was this done in a way that could be easily understood?
  • Were your concerns addressed?
  • When possible, did they provide you with options? Were you advised of the risks of treatments and provide you with reasons for their recommendations?
  • Did they ensure that you agree to all fees and treatments before starting?
  • Did the dentist talk to you about preventive care, such as brushing and flossing?