It’s an important distinction for your dental and overall health – but how do you know who is best for you?
It’s a question Chase Pilat of TRU Dentistry Austin has asked himself and his partners frequently, because in all his years in dentistry as a sales rep, he’s seen the types of dental practices he’d want to avoid as a patient, and the rare few he’d feel very comfortable with.
“I’ve worked with a range of practices from the big, corporate type to the small, independent,” he says. “What I’ve seen is how patients experience the culture of a practice can really impact their oral health. For example, if they feel that they’re being ‘upsold’ or given treatment recommendations that aren’t necessary, they may not return to that office or any dentist at all, for fear of the same type of pressure.”
For Pilat, the keys to finding the best dentist boil down to the five Cs:
Culture—Every dental office has a culture and a work philosophy, even if they don’t spell it out. How does your dentist make you feel when you come through the door? Are you welcomed and acknowledged?
“It’s really important to us that patients feel valued as people, not just as patients,” says Pilat. “We take the time to get to know our patients so we can make sure they’re comfortable and help them manage any anxiety they might have.”
Character—Trusting that your dentist is honest, and the practice operates with integrity is important for your ongoing care. Do you feel like your dentist explains their treatment recommendations? Will the practice work with you on a payment plan if you don’t have insurance?
“We want to make treatment feasible in any way that we can,” says Pilat. “We’re here to take care of people, regardless of their financial means, so we find a way to work with anyone who comes under our care.”
Chairside manner—The more anxious you are about dental treatment, the more painful it’s likely to be (that’s actual science). That’s why chairside manner is so important. Yes, your dentist can administer drugs to ease pain and anxiety, but they can also talk to you and help you relax.
“We’re really lucky to have found Dr. (Samantha) Hollinger,” says Pilat. “She knows so much about her field of expertise, but she’s such a loving person, down to earth, funny, a little goofy, and just really puts everyone at ease. She makes everyone at our South Lamar office feel like family.”
Caliber—Dentistry has gone digital, and that means you can see so much more beyond x-rays now. Ever wonder just how bad that crack in a back molar looks, or why your dentist wants to keep an eye on that old crown? Well, you can see it all in full color, thanks to intraoral photos. You can also have your mouth scanned to render a 3D image.
“We don’t even do impressions anymore,” says Pilat. “We just do a scan and can have a new crown seated within three or four days. It used to take two to three weeks.”
Credentials—This should go without saying, but it’s a good idea to check out your dentist’s credentials before entrusting them with your care. Your dentist should be a Doctor of Dental Medicine (D.M.D.) or a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.).
“Dentists are trained to look at your overall oral health and tell patients about signs of other possible health concerns,” says Pilat. “Unfortunately, not all dentists are as thorough as they should be.”
Dr. Hollinger echoes Pilat’s statement, describing serious dental issues she’s addressed that resulted from orthodontic work performed without a proper oral health screening and teeth cleaning first.
“No reputable dentist would perform that type of work without first screening and cleaning,” says Dr. Hollinger. “But I’ve seen it happen, so I really try to teach my patients the reasons behind why we recommend a checkup and cleaning every six months. A lot of serious damage can occur in six months!”
One way to make sure your dentist is as thorough as Dr. Hollinger, is to check to make sure they’re a member of the American Dental Association. The ADA requires members to “stay current on the science, technology and medical innovations; provide patients the highest quality care; not discriminate against individuals from any walk of life; and be as truthful and honest as possible with every patient.” You can also search for dentists who are members of the ADA on its website.
Contact TRU Dentistry Austin, located on South Lamar, to schedule a consultation. Your dental health starts here.