Finding a good Dentist for you and your family is not difficult. Although sitting through dental checkups, poking around in your gaping mouth, drilling and grinding is not pleasant, there are ten very simple steps that virtually guarantee success.
The first two tips are the ideal place to start. What kind of Dentist do you need? Do you need a special Dentist for your children? Until you answer these fundamental questions, all else is moot.
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I. What kind of Dentist do I need?
State Board licensed Dentists in general practice are fully qualified to provide nearly all aspects of dental care. General Dentists often label themselves "cosmetic Dentist" to indicate that they offer cosmetic dental treatments, or a "family Dentist" can treat your whole family.
These designations are not officially recognized dental specializations. Dental specialties recognized by the American Dental Association include Endodontist (root canal therapy), Maxillofacial and Oral Surgeon (tooth extraction and oral surgery), Orthodontist (braces and repositioning teeth), Pedodontist or Pediatric Dentist (specializing in children and teens), periodontist (care of gums and supporting tissues) and Prosthodontists (restorative and rehabilitation specialists.)
If you have extreme symptoms such as bleeding gums, constant jaw pain, or severe toothache, it is easy and automatic to assume that you need a dental specialist. While that may be true, most dental specialists require that you first see a General Dentist for a comprehensive dental exam and a referral as required.
If your general Dentist determines that you need treatments that are outside their expertise, he or she should then refer you to an appropriate specialist. Bear in mind that many general Dentists actually perform some of the same treatments as dental specialists, such as wisdom tooth extraction, root canals, and dental crown and bridge procedures.