Finding a Dentist

December 15, 2010

Dentists complete our top ten list of types of businesses receiving complaints in 2010. Since dental work can be expensive, uncomfortable and sometimes visible or permanent, it is important to give due diligence to finding the best dental service to suit your personal needs.

Here are some tips from your BBB on finding a good fit for a dentist:

1) Research your options and compile a list of candidates. If you are researching for a child, you may want to look for a pediatric dentist or check out an orthodontist or surgical dentist for specialized work. Contact the American Dental Association or visit to find ADA members in your area*. Your BBB offers Reliability Reports on its website and you can also check out licensure through your state’s professional licensing agency. (Sites for the Tri-State area include: Indiana Online Licensing, Kentucky Board of Dentistry-Dentist License Search and the Illinois Division of Professional Regulation.)

2) Check with your Insurance Company. This will help you to know which dentists are covered under your plan and what your liability will be for services. Sometimes a dentist not covered by your insurance will be your first choice, but knowing this allows you to discuss any possible discounts or similar considerations with him or her.

3) Visit the office and ask for references. You will likely need to set up an appointment to meet the dentist, but visiting the office will give you a feel for the cleanliness, comfort and friendliness of the service. It will also give you a feel for if patients are quickly seen and you can request a list of some current patients to contact as references. (This information may take a little time to gather so consider calling in advance prior to pick up.)

4) Learn the dentist’s preferred method of treatment. When are pain medications offered and what types are used? At what point are they offered? If a child is the patient, what is the office’s practice in dealing with scared children? Finally, insure the office/dentist specializes in the specific products and services you need. Some may outsource for dentures or other necessary products or services.

5) Evaluate your choices. Your dentist should be open to discussion and be able to provide written price estimates for all suggested work. You should feel comfortable asking questions regarding risks and benefits and may need to learn more about payment options or alternate forms of treatment available.

6) Your BBB suggests you take your time in evaluating your choices and never feel pressured to make quick decisions regarding high-risk procedures or high-dollar transactions. Always take time to consider the health benefits and risks, and continue to ask questions if you don’t completely understand services and costs.

Should you still have an issue with your dentist office, you may file a complaint with your BBB. If your complaint is medical/treatment related, you will need to file with your state’s attorney general.

Additional Resources:

Indiana Attorney General: www. or 1-800-382-5516

Kentucky Attorney General: or 1-502-696-5389

Illinois Attorney General: or 1-866-999-5630

* The ADA Member Directory is not a referral service but rather a service to provide an up-to-date list of ADA members. The ADA makes no representation or warranty about the professional skills of those dentists listed in the directory, nor does the ADA accept or assume any responsibility for the treatment they provide.