How to Choose a Dentist

Many times in the course of writing my periodic columns for this illustrious publication, I have been contacted by readers with a variety of intriguing questions. Sometimes, these questions are of an open-ended, philosophical bent, such as “Do you get paid for this?” and “Why does your writing suck so hard?” At other times, the questions are more personal and specific in nature, “Why the hell didn’t you remember to pay the gas bill?” for instance. Time and time again, though, there is the eternal question of “How do I find a really good dentist?” After lengthy research into this matter, I feel that now is the moment to provide my faithful readers with an unequivocal answer to this dilemma. What follows, then, are some important considerations to be followed when selecting the dental health practitioner who will adequately serve your needs.

* Unlike some other service professionals, such as chimney sweeps and hot tar roofers, hygiene can be an important consideration when choosing a dentist. Take notice of such details as the cleanliness of the equipment being used. Everything should be bright, shiny, and spic-and-span. Oily residue, corrosion, and things that are caked onto the drills and other wang-doodles being used are generally not a good sign and neither is sawdust on the floor.

* Avoid dentists who appear to be operating another business out of the same premises in order “to make ends meet.” I know that if I were employing the services of a taxidermist, for example, I certainly would not want him or her to be operating a dental clinic on the side, and I feel the same way about my oral health professional.

* You can tell a lot about a person’s professionalism by the way they comport themselves. When choosing a dentist, she or he should come across as bright, confident, and attired in crisp, sterile garments. One should probably avoid health care workers dressed in soiled overalls, egg-stained undershirts, or feather boas. Be cautious too, if they appear sweaty and shifty, appearing to constantly keep an eye on the office door in case of a sudden police raid.

* Although there are no absolutes, it is always best to find a dentist who has had some formal medical training, preferably with hands-on experience. If you can find one who has actually graduated from a post-secondary institution, so much the better — even if it means paying a little bit extra.

I hope that the foregoing advice has done just a little bit to make your lives easier and put your minds at rest. In next week’s column, I plan to talk a little bit about the dos and don’ts of choosing a reliable proctologist.