There are a number of factors which can influence your choice of private dentist and there is no simple formula to guide you in your decision. However, it is important that you make an informed choice and the following will give you an insight into the issues you should be considering:
- First impressions. Do you like the look of the practice? Is it clean looking and well presented? Is it welcoming and easy to get in? As few of us look forward to a trip to the dentist, cluttered dirty looking premises with intercom locks do little to allay anxieties.
- Availability. Toothaches don't only happen during weekday working hours so is the practice open in the evening or at weekends? Also, how long do you have to wait for an appointment, particularly if you're in pain. A two week wait for an appointment may be a sign of a successful and in-demand practice but this will be of little consolation to you if you are in pain or have lost a filling or crown.
- Price structure. Although many dentists now publish price lists on their websites, the prices quoted are usually 'from' an amount rather than a fixed amount. This means that the price you pay may be higher than that quoted so, if you are working to a budget, check that you are able to access treatments at the lowest quoted price. Also, are x-rays charged individually or included in the treatment cost? For treatments such as root canal treatment where x-rays are required at various stages of the treatment, separate charges for these can soon mount up.
- Price level. What is your budget for treatment and are the dentist's fees at a level that you could afford if extensive work was required?
- Paying for your treatment. Does the dentist have a membership scheme or monthly plan to spread the cost of your routine checkups and hygienist sessions? Is extended finance available to spread the cost over a longer period than the duration of your treatment?
- Qualifications. Although all dentists must hold a dental qualification and be registered with the General Dental Council, if you are seeking specialised work such as orthodontic treatment, dental implants or a full smile makeover, what specific qualifications do the dentists at the practice hold in these areas? Also, whilst modern local anaesthetics mean that dentistry is near pain-free, if you want treatment under sedation or by hypnosis, is the practice equipped to offer this or would you need to be referred elsewhere?
- Reputation. There are many websites giving the facility to submit feedback/reviews on businesses including, of course, Google which shows the number of reviews in the search results. Also, some dentists publish testimonials by their patients on their own websites. What are other people saying? Is the general view positive or negative and are there sufficient reviews to give you a realistic picture?
- Your dentist. The single most important factor is do you like and trust the person who will be treating you? We have all met people we don't warm to and dentists are no exception. If you feel that you do not wish to be treated by a particular dentist for personal reasons, then keep looking.