Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How Do You Know You Have a Good Dentist?

     I got back from vacation to face reality. I had a dentist appointment.

     When I was growing up, my family always went to Dr. Murphy, who had a dental office in his home only a few blocks from our house. Dr. Murphy was old school. I remember, when I was little, he didn't use novocaine. Instead, he'd instruct me to rest my arms on the sides of his chair. Then he'd lean on my right arm as he started to drill and tell me, "Just raise your right arm if it starts to hurt."

     Of course, I'd start yelping, and try my hardest to raise my arm; but I was a little kid, and he was a big guy, so my arm wasn't going anywhere. It hurt like hell; but he finished the job as quickly as could be expected .... more quickly than if I'd been able to wiggle and squiggle and protest. So I guess this was his way to minimize the pain, before novocaine.

     I chipped my front tooth when I was in high school. By this time Dr. Murphy did have novocaine. He inserted a post into the tooth and filled out the chip with some kind of white compound. Now, 50 years later, that repair is still doing its job.

     I tried a few dentists as an adult, until I landed on Dr. Saltzman. He had dark hair and a deeply lined face to go along with his gruff exterior. But he took good care of my teeth for 25 years, filling cavities, putting in a few crowns, and generally keeping my mouth healthy by doing as much dentistry as needed, but not any more than necessary.

     About ten years ago Dr. Saltzman retired. A young fellow took over his practice, but I was not happy with him. And I haven't been happy ever since.

     The replacement was a nice guy; but the first job he did, a crown, never seemed right to me. So I switched to a group practice a few towns up the line. The office was reasonably priced and took my insurance. The problem was that you never got to see the same dentist twice. Every time I went in, there was a different person working on me. A lot of patients came and went; it was like an assembly line.

     Eventually, though, I developed a relationship with one young dentist and managed to schedule my appointments with her. She was caring and seemed to do good work.

     A couple of years ago I had to have a crown, and my usual dentist wasn't around so another dentist did the job. It seemed okay, for a while, but eventually started causing some intermittent pain. Then I started to get food caught in another tooth, and when I brought it to my regular dentist's attention she insisted that everything was okay. Then, last fall, she did a crown; and just last month a piece of the crown broke off.

     So I decided to try out another dentist. I thought of B's dentist; but she's not entirely happy with him, and besides, he's getting older and will probably retire soon. So I found a local dentist on the Internet, with some good reviews, and I had my first visit yesterday.

     She said she could replace my broken crown. She also said the crown that was hurting me had not been fitted in quite right -- there was a small gap that was probably causing the pain. And she pointed out that the place where food was getting stuck had part of an old filling broken off, and a cavity was beginning to develop underneath. The filling was too old and too big to replace. I needed a crown on that tooth, and also the tooth next door.

     This new dentist seems very confident. I thought I was in good hands. But after I got home I began to wonder: How come my old dentist didn't notice these problems? She never seemed incompetent, just a little rushed. So do I really have these problems, or is this new dentist looking to do extra work in my mouth? How can you tell?

     I googled both these dentists. My old dentist went to a top dental school. I couldn't find any review of her; but the reviews of her office were mixed. Some patients were satisfied; others cited outdated equipment and long waiting times. The new dentist also went to a good dental school. She seems to know what she's doing. She certainly has a more modern X-ray machine; perhaps she's even a little full of herself. But do I trust her?

71 comments:

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

In spring we get repairs on everything around here, including us. David and I saw our guy yesterday, For once, I am ok, but David needs work.

Snowbrush said...

I stayed with dentist for 20 years who didn't seem all that good, but I liked a lot about him. Then I went to a dentist who seemed able to do his work with less struggle, and I became convinced that he was really good. Then, my wife retired, and I lost my dental insurance. I bought some new insurance, getting the cheapest I could, and ended up in practice that has cracks in the chair upholstery, but I do like the dentist. The first thing he did was a crown, and things smoothly, and six months later, I've had no trouble.

Dick Klade said...

There's a saying around here: "Go to a new dentist and he or she automatically will find three cavities." Hoping that's now what happened to you.

Stephen Hayes said...

I've been going to my dentist for thirty years. He's performed every procedure there is, including root canal, and I've never experienced more tan slight pain. I pray he doesn't retire.

Olga Hebert said...

i had a wonderful dentist that I went to for years even when it was quite inconvenient and a long round trip. He is retired now. I can't say he has been replaced, although I have had a number of different dentists since then.

gigihawaii said...

I know what you mean about the difficulty in finding and keeping an excellent dentist you can trust.

Pam said...

It's not easy to find a good dentist! When we moved, we went to several dentists before we found one that both hub and I like. Angie's List and simple word of mouth helped us make our choice. A person needs to have confidence in your dentist, because keeping your teeth in good shape can be a very expensive proposition!

Pam said...

It's not easy to find a good dentist! When we moved, we went to several dentists before we found one that both hub and I like. Angie's List and simple word of mouth helped us make our choice. A person needs to have confidence in your dentist, because keeping your teeth in good shape can be a very expensive proposition!

retirementallychallenged.com said...

It seems that dentists need to be artists as well as clinically competent. My husband and I go to the same one. I have no issues (I'm blessed with good teeth) but my husband is often unhappy with the results. When things in your mouth don't fit well, you've got big problems. Good luck!!

DJan said...

When I was working and had dental insurance, I and my husband went to the same dentist for two decades. When we moved here, I found that much of the work hubby needed was not done, and I remembered how quick my cleanings were. Not any more! I found a new dentist by looking for ones that AARP recommended, and I wanted a woman. We have both been happy with her, except she's a bit pricey, but then again, dentistry never comes cheap. :-)

Jane said...

Ugh! Dentists are like car mechanics...you have to trust that they know what they are doing. It is not like you can Google "implant" and think "yeah, that sounds right."

If you have a trusted medical professional, ask for a recommendation.

Anonymous said...

Washington state is abysmal lacking in good dentists who charge reasonably we don't live in the seattle area which has reduced fees for seniors and free dental work for people with no money and no dental insurance, no we live near God-Forsaken Oregon where the dentists are all in cahoots on prices, when we did have insurance for dental coverage we had excellent dental work in Oregon of course a long commute now we don't have any of that whatsoever so we save up and go to Seattle and get a dentist and dental work done for very little but money but it is long ways over 200 miles and we have to schedule to see that dentist way in advance if an emergency arises we must go to God-forsaken Oregon and get it done and it ain't cheap as the term is used..Dentists in the pacific northwest make out like bandits in my opinion..

Barbara said...

I feel this way about all doctors. I may like them but how do I know if their skills are the best. On the other hand, I may not relate to them that much but their skills are great. I have asked this same question and never figured it out. I look forward to reading all the answers.

Sameer Puri said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I was thinking to take my dad for the procedure and started looking for dentzz review. Now, i shall find more information and finally take him to a good dentist.

Sameer Puri said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I was thinking to take my dad for the procedure and started looking for dentzz review. Now, i shall find more information and finally take him to a good dentist.

Sameer Puri said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I was thinking to take my dad for the procedure and started looking for dentzz review. Now, i shall find more information and finally take him to a good dentist.

Emily Smith said...

Tom, this was just the information I was looking for about finding a good dentist. The tip about finding a dentist that doesn't do or suggest things that are more than necessary seems like a good idea. I don't want to pay for things I don't need!
Emily Smith | http://www.cowanheightsdental.com/en/products_and_services.html

Jon Mack said...

That was quite a journey, Tom. It's all a matter of finding the right dentist. Sometimes, you just end up meeting one. Other times, it's a thorough search based on quality of service and credentials. Either way, it's a vetting process, and it’s much better to scrutinize.

Jon Mack @ Gentle Dental Online

Eunice Greer said...

Trying out different dental services seems like an interesting experience. And yet by doing so, it could still be difficult to decide who the “best” dentist is ever. After all, the word ‘best’ is subjective. For me, as long as you trust your dentist and you’re confident that he has your best interest in mind, I think that would be enough to say that he’s your best option. :-)

Eunice Greer @ Downtown Dental SC

Brham13 Silva said...

Yeah, I also have info about good dentist who is professional and quite responsible. Actually dentist Torrance is our family dentist and we have been using his services for years. We have never had any issues with his treatment.

Jonathan Pound said...

I can't believe your dentist didn't use any form of local anesthetic! Getting your teeth drilled sounded like an awful experience. There are a lot of good dentists out there. I like to go by word of mouth. People that gush about their dentist usually someone that knows what their doing, has the right touch, and know how to make their patients feel comfortable. http://www.vanyodentistry.com/Full_Mouth_Restoration_Durham_NC_Services.html

John Mclaughlin said...

It really is interesting to be able to think about all the different things that need to be considered when it comes to getting dental treatments. I really like that you mentioned how you took the time to research the reviews that these dentists have had. Hopefully this will be something that ends up resulting in you being able to have a great procedure that fixes any issues that you are having. Thank you for sharing.

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How to Find a Good Dentist said...

This is a good video on how to find a good dentist or to know if yours is good: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIgIlgZPEig

Richard Buck said...

Oops I didn't add it correctly:
How to Find a Good Dentist

Snowbrush said...

Thanks, Richard, it was a good video.

Emily Smith said...

Tom, I recently moved to a knew town and I have been having trouble finding a goo dentist. I like how you looked for reviews and researched information about your dentists. That seems like a good idea. I will have to try that! http://www.toukleydentists.com.au/services

Wendy Cartright said...

Thank you for sharing your experiences with different dentists. I think it is a little strange that your new dentist has noticed problems that your other dentists haven't. It was definitely smart of you to check out her background. The internet is a very handy tool for doing research like that! http://www.millcreekfamilydental.com/services.html

Karen Perry said...

When I was younger, I chipped my tooth as well. I was in gym and had just gotten my permanent teeth in. We were using scooters with a friend and my tooth went right into the floor. I was amazed at how well they were able to fix it and it was not very painful at all.

Karen Perry @ Brookside Dental Care

Emman Esguerra said...

Hmmm...I think this is a great find. I should try following your tips and let's see what can I do from there. For me, dentists really take part in our daily lives.

Cal Driver said...

Thanks so much for this article! I've never really noticed a difference between dentists. I've just assumed that they were all on equal footing and that they all went about things the same way. I guess I need to take a hard look at the dentist I've got right now and maybe shop around a little bit. Thanks for opening my eyes.

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Jeffrey Goodman said...

That is crazy that there was no novocaine. I don't think I could do a dentist trip without novocaine. I am very grateful dentist now use novocaine. http://springsdentist.com

Snowbrush said...

"I don't think I could do a dentist trip without novocaine."

If you don’t need it for the pain—because there is no pain—then the shot hurts more than the procedure would hurt without the shot. I tell every dentist I go to, “Don’t give me a shot unless you’re pretty sure I need it,” and the dentist will either say that I most certainly do need it, or that I should hold up my hand if I later decide that I need it. Never once have I held up my hand. This isn’t about grimly gripping the chair in agony, but about avoiding unnecessary shots.

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Jason Strong said...

Finding a dentist has been a pain for me for the last couple of weeks and am wanting to find one soon. I'm just terrible at knowing what to look for and how to properly do my research on them. This article helped me a ton though and one thing that I plan on doing is seeing what dental schools they went to do and then determine who the better choice would be. http://www.CityDentalClinic.ca

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Silas Knight said...

Finding a good dentist can be a challenge. I like how you eventually Googled both of the dentists and read reviews and things. That is a great way to find a good dentist, along with asking people for recommendations. http://kootenayfamilydental.com

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Kate Hansen said...

I've been having the same problems with my current dentist as you have mentioned and, as my kids are reaching the age where they need to start going to a dentist, I figured it was about time to search for a new one that can meet the needs of our whole family. I think it's very hard to find a good family dentist because you have to find a person who can work with both adults and keep kids happy. I think I will research the dentists credentials online like you mentioned to insure that I can trust them. I wonder if there is an online community where you can read reviews about dentists before having to go to them. http://www.sardellafamilydentistry.com

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Luke Forsyth said...

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Mark John said...

As a matter of the fact, the world is moving leaps and bounds. Also, technology is being enhanced day in and day out. Currently, there is modern technology that is known as CAD software. Dentists are getting a lot of help from it. I think Dr. Murphy was experienced but was not known about modern technologies. There is a dentist in Krakow who know to operate CAD/CAM software. In my opinion, you have to visit a new doctor.

Joaquin Guadalupe Velázquez Uribe said...

"I don't think I could do a dentist trip without novocaine."

If you don’t need it for the pain—because there is no pain—then the shot hurts more than the procedure would hurt without the shot. I tell every dentist I go to, “Don’t give me a shot unless you’re pretty sure I need it,” and the dentist will either say that I most certainly do need it, or that I should hold up my hand if I later decide that I need it. Never once have I held up my hand. This isn’t about grimly gripping the chair in agony, but about avoiding unnecessary shots. by German Arzate Garza

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