Finding a Cosmetic Dentist: Hard, But not Impossible

By: Patricia Woloch

A good smile can improve virtually every aspect of how we are perceived. People with a bright smile seem not only more attractive, but more kind, and more intelligent, according to a study by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentists (AACD). In fact, 99.7 % of adults believe a smile is an important social asset. But if you have a smile that's less than perfect, it is very hard to share that smile, and the inevitable consequences can include a loss of social esteem, damage to your personal relationships, and even impairment of your career advancement.

The problem is that, once we have decided to get our smile fixed, finding a dentist we trust to do the work is virtually impossible. After all, with something this important, we want to know that our smile is going to look great, that we won't be getting more treatment than we need for our problem, and that the solution will not hurt the functionality of our teeth, which is just as important as their appearance. After all, there are so many dentists around, especially in a large metropolitan area like Irvine.

Not only is it necessary to find a dentist who is competent and experienced in performing a wide range of cosmetic dentistry procedures, including tooth whitening, dental bonding, cosmetic fillings, and porcelain veneers, but you must find someone you are comfortable working with. After all, you have to be able to tell the dentist about some of your most personal insecurities, something you can't do if you don't wholly trust the person.

The Longest Journey Begins with but a Single Step

Although it seems daunting to find someone who is both competent and caring, the only way to get started is to actually get started with small steps. First, mention that you're thinking about having the work done to some friends and family. See if anyone has had any work done and would recommend their practitioner. If so, you've lucked out. Not only can you get a personal testimony from someone you know, but you can actually look up-close at the dentist's work.

If you're not so fortunate, you have to go the harder route by:

?Searching online
?Looking in the phone book
?Asking your physician or even a general dentist if they recommend anyone

Especially in a large area like Irvine, these methods are likely to give you several to choose from. Of course, rate any cosmetic dentist recommended by your physician or GD very highly, but you should not make it your only factor in making your decision.

Study the Dentists' Websites

Nowadays, any dentist capable of performing the procedures you need is likely to have a website. You will want to look at all these websites, but don't be fooled by mere cosmetic trim. You want a dentist whose website is not only cosmetic, but functional, just like you want your smile to be. In particular, look for:

?The dentist's education, training, and experience
?The dentist's professional affiliations, especially positions showing they are respected by other dentists
?Before and after pictures, especially current ones
?Testimonials by patients
?Descriptions of procedures you think you might need done

Take in all this information, write down notes and begin to prepare for the next step.

Schedule Complimentary Consultations

Reputable cosmetic dentists will offer free initial consultations, and you should take advantage of this to find out which dentist you would like to work with. Take all the information you gained from the website, and a list of questions. Be sure to ask:

?For any clarifications about education and training
?Whether the images on the website are actual patients or models
?For testimonials or contact information from former patients
?Whether the dentist is just cosmetic or if s/he practices other areas of dentistry
?What types of veneers, crowns, and bonding the dentist uses
?What comfort level the dentist has with the various procedures
?Whether you will get to see the same dentist throughout your course of treatment

While you are at the office, be sure to make careful observations of its condition, and the condition of the patients, both before and after they see the dentist. Arrive early for your appointment and see whether a large number of patients are kept waiting and for how long.

Of course you should not choose the first dentist you go to. You should visit several to establish a basis for comparison and choose from among them to find the one that is most likely to make you feel comfortable and well-cared-for.

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