With dozens of dental clinics to consider in the “Sunshine State,” it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the number of choices at your disposal.
Often, a relative or coworker may recommend their dentist as a viable option. However, everyone's needs are unique. Maybe you've recently relocated to Hollywood and would like to see a local dentist as opposed to driving 30 minutes to see another practitioner?
Do you have some questions that a previous dentist was unable to answer?
Maybe your insurance plan is only covered by certain providers?
Either way, this article should help you determine the best dentist for your specific situation.
How to Find the Best Florida Dental Center for your family
How do you determine which dental center is better than the other? There are often several alternatives on the same street. Take Hollywood Blvd, for example, there are small practices and dental franchises. There are brand new practices opening all the time, and practices like ours which have been around for more than 60 years.
What exactly makes up the right dentist?
How do you find your perfect match in a state spanning upwards of 65,000 square miles?
That all depends on your personal needs and preferences, but one thing is for certain. When a patient finds a perfect fit in their dental office, they're more willing to travel and pay any expense to see that specific doctor.
If you’re on the hunt for a dental clinic in Florida, let the following pointers help you come to a decision:
1) Look up the dental center on the Florida dental board.
Across every state, a dental board exists to oversee the actions of dentists and their practices.
Similar to the BBB, if a dentist is found violating any of the board's values or licensing requirements, they won't be able to remain in good standing.
The board sees to it that dental centers live up to the requirements of their certification. As dentistry, like other medical specialties, is responsible for the health and well-being of your family - the dental board does not take this responsibility lightly.
In this case, look to the Florida Board of Dentistry website for guidance once you’ve narrowed down your choices.
On their website, you can establish if the dental clinic has a valid license to its name as well as the establishment’s history. Malpractice lawsuit information and other important derogatory marks also show up online. You’ll be able to determine if the center in question has a good reputation and is in good standing. You'll also be able to see if there are any worrying claims against the practice.
In some cases, you may need to look elsewhere after a thorough investigation of the practice. Just because a friend or relative had a good experience with the practice doesn't mean that the dentist in question is a good dentist.
2) Are they a member of the ADA or other associations?
It’s typically the case that your dentist will be a member of various boards and associations, like the American Dental Association.
Several sources, including multiple insurance plans, have come to that conclusion.
For example, ADA members have amassed a sterling reputation over the years, but that’s not the only organization that highlights excellence. AAOSH and AADSM memberships can also be indicative of an adept dentist and, by extension, an excellent dental center. Your dentist may also be a member of the local chamber of commerce and other local business organizations.
It's fundamental to note that unethical, money-hungry business owners don't last long in groups like these. Thus, yoru dentist must have a good reputation to remain a member of any social group that involves referring or recommending their work.
One bad experience can ruin a reputation, and thus, it's crucial that you do your research. There is a correlation between the length of time a business is around and the quality of work or customer experience they provide.
Long-standing businesses typically have a better reputation and values, simply because they've lasted through the tests of time.
3) Interview the practice.
This may sound a little extreme, but it certainly helps to filter out coarse personalities and lazy, unethical practices.
If you’re going to be trusting an institution with something as vital as your dental hygiene, you might as well put it through the paces.
Call the office and ask a few questions. Take notes on whether the staff seems friendly or annoyed by your questioning. This gives important insight into the type of energy you'll be dealing with.
If the staff member isn't knowledgable but is very friendly, this suggests the office has patience but may lack experience.
If the staff member is irritable or tries to rush you off the phone - it suggests the practice may be in deep water, disharmonious, or struggling financially. In this case, beware of upsells and other antics.
If the person on the phone is both knowledgable and friendly, the practice may be just right for you. It's an added bonus if you can speak directly with the doctor before going in for an appointment. Physicians are very busy, and this is a sign that the physician values your well-being above all. It suggests that the doctor isn't arrogant, but caring and communicative.
If you can get a physician on the phone, you've found a rare gem.
Other Ways To Make Contact
You can also try to organize a sit-down interview with dental centers in your area. Seeking the answers you need over the phone isn't always the easiest or most helpful route. Especially if the staff member is a new employee, or solely works in the office without hands-on experience in the exam room.
Find out the educational history of the staff, and the specialties of the dentists that work there. To establish if they are the best fit for your particular dental work, it's essential to do some homework.
It’d also be prudent to find out how long the clinic has been operating as experience often goes hand in hand with the quality of service a center provides.
4) Look for references
If you’re new to Florida or the city you now live in, be sure to ask your neighbors or colleagues where they get their dental work done.
People you trust are always good resources for honest feedback. If they've tried out a few of the practices in the locality then they are well-positioned to recommend a dental center nearby that you might like.
It's additionally useful to take advantage of this opportunity, as it will allow you to get acquainted with local businesses. You'll get to know the local service providers and the personalities in your new neighborhood.
5) Online reviews help too
Aside from the backing of friends or family, third-party reviews from sites like Angie’s List and Yelp can help to point you in the right direction.
You can sample the experiences of different patients through a personal recount of their experience. It goes without saying that you’re better off with the clinic that has more positive feedback than negative. However, keep in mind that some practices incentivize patients to leave a positive review for some sort of reward or discount.
Often, this leads to the best practices having very few reviews, although mostly 5-star reviews. Consider the last time you left a positive review for a purchase or service that wasn't incentivized. It's much more likely an unhappy person leaves a negative review for the smallest offense. So try to sort out fact from fiction, taking these online reviews with a grain of salt.
Finally, if you don’t know where to start, you should check out dental clinic directory websites.
They have tons of options from across the country. You can narrow down your search to Florida, or even your current city. Whether traveling with a dental emergency or relocating, there are many dental options at your disposal. Use these guidelines to narrow your search for the best dental provider near you.