Fact Sheet: How to Choose a Dentist

It is generally acknowledged that more than 46 percent of consumers do not have a general dentist. Many consumers turn to the phone book to search for a new family dentist. However, this tool may not be the most reliable source of information. To help, the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) provides resources to help you look for a new dentist.

1 - Begin the Search

Call the AGD's consumer referral line, 1-877-2X-A-YEAR, to connect with three AGD member dentists. Or, ask for recommendations. Family, friends, neighbors or coworkers can be excellent sources, and can refer you to a dentist they feel comfortable visiting. Ask your family physician or local pharmacist. If you are moving, your current dentist may be able to make a recommendation. Or, call your local or state dental society. Ask your sources:

  • What do they like about the office?
  • What do they like about the dentist?

2 - Start With a Consultation

Call or visit more than one dentist before making a decision. During a consultation, note dental office and talk to the dentist about services available to you and your family. Ask questions:

  • Is the dentist a member of organized dentistry (AGD, American Dental Association, etc.)?
  • What is the dentist's commitment to continuing dental education?
  • What dental procedures are completed in-office?
  • What procedures will be referred out?
  • How does the dental team stay up-to-date with the latest procedures?
  • How are dental emergencies handled?

3 - The Appointment

After you have selected the dentist and dental office that meets your expectations and your needs, set up an appointment for a general exam, which consists of a cleaning, x-rays and medical health history. This visit is your opportunity to decide if the dentist and dental team:

  • Are personable, patient and caring.
  • Take time to answer your questions.
  • Are considerate of your time and comfort.
  • Demonstrate the professionalism you expect.

Download How to Choose a Dentist PDF