Choosing a dentist
Regular visits to your dentist – and sometimes to other oral health care professionals, too – are an important part of your overall health. Checkups can help you find and treat problems in the early stages. (Another benefit? Care is often more affordable when you catch a problem early.) Regular trips to your dentist can also help prevent dental issues before they happen.1
But first things first: How do you find a dentist? These tips and resources can help you start your search.
3 tips to find a dentist that's right for you
It’s a good idea to think about a variety of factors when searching for a dentist. Of course, things like location and hours are important. But choosing a dentist you like is equally important. Building a trusting relationship with your dentist can help you feel safe and comfortable.2 This often makes it easier to bring up any concerns you have. It may also make you less likely to skip or delay appointments. Consider these 3 tips as you begin your search.2
Does your dental office need to be close to work, home or school? Do you need a provider that’s open nights or weekends? Are you looking for dental care for your whole family (kids and adults)? Answering these questions can narrow your search and help make it easier to find a dentist that fits your lifestyle.
Beyond basic must-haves, are there other services you might need? Maybe you or someone in your family needs translation or interpreter services. Or maybe going to the dentist makes you nervous. This is common for many people, so you may want a dentist experienced in caring for anxious patients.3 Whatever your personal needs, there’s likely a dentist who can meet them.
Once you’ve done some research and found a few good options, set up time to meet with each dentist (typically called a consultation). This is a great chance to check out the office and ask questions. It’s also a good time to bring up any concerns, like anxiety or dental health issues. Sharing your dental records can also be helpful. Your previous dentist can usually send your records to the new dental office for you.
See if the dentist is in the network for your plan
Knowing which dentists are covered by your dental insurance plan can also help you focus your search. Plus, seeing an in-network dentist can help you manage your dental care costs. You’ll typically pay $0 out of pocket for preventive services like routine cleanings. If you have dental insurance, visit your plan’s website or call the number on your plan ID card.
What if I don't have dental insurance?
UnitedHealthcare offers a variety of plan options, from broad coverage to budget-friendly. Learn more about our dental insurance plans.
If dental insurance isn’t in your budget right now, you still have options. Your state dental society may be able to help you find care in your area. A dental school clinic is another possible option for lower-cost care.4 See what options may be available for you and your family with these helpful resources from the ADA.
Understand the different types of dentists
While general dentistry may be the most familiar type of dentistry, there are several other specialties in dentistry to know about. Knowing who’s who in the world of oral health care specialists can help you choose the care you need.
|Orthodontist||When most of us think of going to the orthodontist, we think of braces – and that’s correct. Orthodontists are dentists who completed orthodontic school. They specialize in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of dental irregularities, like teeth spacing issues (too close together or too far apart) and other concerns.5|
|Pedodontist (pediatric dentist)||Did you know there are specialty dentists for children? Pedodontists are dentists who specialize in the oral health of infants, children and adolescents, rather than treating the whole family like a general dentist.6|
|Periodontist (gum specialist)||Periodontists are dentists who have added training beyond dental school — and specialize in the gums. Gums are the tissue surrounding the teeth.7 A periodontist works to prevent, diagnose and treat gum disease. They can also place dental implants.8|
|Endodontist (root canal specialist)||You might have guessed that “endo” means “within” or “inside.” An endodontist focuses on the tissue inside your teeth. You’d likely go to an endodontist if you have tooth pain or sensitivity that can be treated with a root canal9|
How to find a good dentist in your area
You have many good options when it comes to looking for a dentist. Beyond searching online, here are a few ideas to get you started:1
- Ask a trusted friend, family member or coworker. They’ll have first-hand experience to share and can help answer questions you may have.
- Check your mailbox. You may get mailers or see newspaper ads from local dentists in your area. If they’re in your community, they may be worth checking out.
Moving to a new area? If you need to find a new dentist, your current dentist may be able to make a recommendation.
What to look for in a dentist
When you find a dentist that feels like the right fit, you may want to take a little extra time to make sure they’re qualified to fully meet your needs. Here are some key areas to explore:
Focus on your needs and what matters most to you when it comes to dental care. With a little time and effort, you can find a dentist that’s a great fit and a partner in your overall health.