Choosing a Dentist

    Need a Dentist? Let Us Point the Way

Need a Dentist? Let Us Point the Way

Seeing a dentist twice a year is the best way to ensure good oral health, but many people put off these important health care visits. Many people relocate at least once in their lives, and finding a dentist in a new city or town can be a daunting task.

To make it easier to find a dentist, the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) offers consumers a toll-free service that can point them in the direction of an Academy member general dentist. Share this fact sheet with friends or family members in search of a dentist, and help them get the continuing oral health care they need.

What is 1.877.2X.A.YEAR?

The AGD's toll-free service, 1.877.2X.A.YEAR (1.877.292.9327), is a free service to help the public to find local general dentists who also are members of the AGD. Membership in the AGD marks your dentist as a professional committed to excellent patient care through lifelong learning. Calling this number will put you in touch with an operator who will provide the names, addresses and phone numbers of three local Academy member general dentists. Just provide your ZIP code, city or region, and we'll do the rest.

The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week from anywhere in the United States and Canada. The AGD's Web site also provides a listing of members nationwide. Go to the "Consumer Information" page, click on "Find an AGD Dentist" link and type in a ZIP code and receive a randomly selected list of up to six dentists.

Why should I see a general dentist?

General dentists are the primary dental care providers for patients of all ages. Besides providing preventive services, your general dentist is responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, management and overall coordination of your oral health needs. If you need the services of a specialist, such as an oral surgeon or endodontist, your general dentist can provide appropriate referrals and maintain your continuity of care.

Regular visits to your general dentist are key to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Tooth decay and gum disease are the biggest risks for adults who don't receive regular dental care.

Regular checkups for children, starting at age 1, will safeguard them against problems such as baby bottle tooth decay, teething irritations, gum disease and prolonged thumbsucking, and help prevent cavities throughout their early years.

Building a relationship with a general dentist who sees you regularly and knows your history allows you to maintain your oral health and catch small problems before they become big ones.

I am afraid to go to the dentist, but I know I should. What can I do?

Talk to the dentist about your fears. By developing a relationship with a dentist, you are also involving yourself in your treatment plan. Dentists can discuss options that will help you relax and feel more comfortable during your visit.

What is a fee-for-service dentist?

A fee-for-service dentist is a dentist who is paid directly by the patient for the services provided, based on the dentist's cost to provide them. Neither the fees nor the treatment option nor the time the dentist can spend with you is controlled by anyone else or by an insurance group, company or third party.

What is an HMO or PPO dentist?

A health maintenance organization (HMO) or preferred provider organization (PPO) sets a cap on the fees that can be charged for procedures. By joining an HMO or PPO, the dentist agrees to abide by these restrictions, which enables the company and the patient to know the predetermined costs. Because fees are controlled, it is possible that a participating dentist may need to control your treatment options, the materials used and the time that can be spent with you during treatment.

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Original content of this reprinted with permission of the Academy of General Dentistry. © Copyright 2007-2009 by the Academy of General Dentistry. All rights reserved. Read the original article here.