How to Find a Good Dentist That You Can Trust


Finding the right dentist can seem like an overwhelming task, but it gets a lot easier once you know where to look to find good candidates, what to look for when comparing them and finally what questions to ask to determine which best fits your needs and situation.

In This Guide

First of all, you need to determine what specialty of professional you need. Since you’re reading this, it’s probably safe to assume that you’re looking for someone who can perform an implant procedure in addition to installing the abutment and crown. Trained and certified general dentists, prosthodontists, oral/maxillofacial surgeons and periodontists can all perform the surgery, but certain additional procedures such as bone grafts and sinus augmentations might require the expertise of a specialist.

quality dentistOverall, a quality dentist has a good reputation in their community, is honest with their patients about their dental health, discusses costs upfront and is knowledgeable and willing to answer any questions that they’re asked. Be sure to follow these steps to find one before a toothache or other emergency pops up.

How to Find One

  • Used our dentist locator map.
  • The best way to start your search for a great dentist is by asking your friends, family, colleagues or co-workers for recommendations. Those who are pleased with the work of their surgeon will be happy to refer you or at least tell you their thoughts.
  • Your pharmacist or family doctor can be another excellent source of recommendations (they have to go to the dentist’s too!).
  • Contact your state/local dental association. The American Dental Association (ADA) has a list of societies on their website at
  • If you’re moving, ask your current dentist to refer you to someone in your new area
  • If the previous methods don’t work out, you can search for one in your area online.

At this point you should have a list of several good dentists to choose from. The next step is to call and/or visit each one in order to narrow down your search, first through a new patient consultation or “meet and greet” and then an actual appointment. The more questions you ask and research you do increases the likelihood of selecting the one that best fits your needs and preferences the first time around.

Initial Dentist Consultation

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Dentist

The initial consultation can only reveal so much, so an actual appointment should be scheduled to find out about their work and methods. The following are questions to ask them and/or yourself during an appointment:

Questions to Ask Them

  • How long has the dentist been in business?
  • Do they have the proper qualifications? Are they a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD)? Contact your local society to confirm if necessary.
  • Where did they receive their education and training?
  • How much experience do they have with the procedure(s) you require?
  • How do they approach implant dentistry? What types of implants and procedures do they use?
  • What options are available to you in regards to the procedure and materials used?
  • How often do they attend continuing education courses and conferences?
  • What types of anesthesia do they offer that they are they certified to use?
  • Do they offer amenities such as heating pads, TV or music?
  • What insurance plans/companies do they accept?
  • What methods of payment do they accept?
  • Do they offer payment plans?
  • Do they provide care for both adults and children (if you have kids)? If so, is the environment kid-friendly (games, toys, books, etc.)?
  • What emergency care services do they provide? Are they available after hours and on weekends?
  • What is their referral procedure when they cannot provide adequate treatment for a particular surgery or procedure? How well do they know the professional they are referring you to?
  • What do they typically charge for single and full-mouth dental implants? What procedures and supplies do these quoted prices include? Compare these numbers to the cost data we have collected.
  • Do they have before and after photos of their previous patients? Bring an after photo of a patient who was in a similar situation to show the sort of result you expect.
  • How long will the procedure take? Will it look natural? Will there be multiple sessions? What if the treatment is a failure?

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Are their location and hours of operation convenient? Do they work with your schedule?
  • Are they and their admin staff willing to answer your questions?
  • Are they friendly? Do they make your feel comfortable? Do you feel like you could build a good long-term relationship with them?
  • Does the office and the equipment look neat, orderly and clean?
  • Does their technology and equipment look relatively new? Outdated equipment can point to the use of outdated and more risky procedures.
  • Do they wear gloves and other personal protection equipment while providing treatment?
  • Do they ask questions to learn more about your situation and take notes on their findings?
  • How well do they explain your oral health situation, the treatments you require and the procedures that will be done? Do they communicate in simple terms or confusing/technical jargon?
  • Do they discuss both the benefits of the procedure and the possible side effects or problems?
  • Did they thoroughly examine your mouth, gums and teeth?
  • Was your medical history recorded and filed?

Note: You should contact your insurance company and determine whether they provide full or partial coverage before accepting any major procedure. It is important to know what procedures are covered by your insurance plan so that you are not surprised by the final cost if any additional surgeries are performed.

Lastly, we highly advise not selecting the one who offers the lowest prices. You typically get what you pay for and it’s not worth risking your oral health to save a few bucks. Excessive advertising and exaggerated promises should also be flags to proceed with caution.

Before you allow a surgeon to start pulling teeth and drilling in to your jawbone, you need to make sure you can trust them to do a good job. The extensive list of factors to consider above might seem like overkill, but finding a good dentist can be tough (especially in certain areas). The more work and research you do now, the safer your dental health will be in the long term.

When in Doubt, Get a Second Opinion

If something feels “off” with the recommendations, price or attitude of your dentist, consult another well-rated dentist in your area. This is especially important when the procedure you’re considering will cost thousands of dollars and have a huge impact on your well being.

What to Read Next

Over to You

How did you find your current dentist? What about them did you like/dislike? Let us know in the comments!

What others are saying

  1. Do not go to a student to get your teeth done I did and I regret it badly they ruined 3 of my teeth 1 was a filling which that was to far down on my gum ( Far down on a slant) then a Crown on my upper back tooth wrong size and ached) then another filling which was to far down on a slant and had to go to get all redone by a Qualified Dentist and it cost me a fortune I would never ever let a Student Touch my Teeth again, Some of them should not be working on human teeth 2,3,4 years.

  2. Dear Ali: can you explain why does it take you 4 to 6 months to answer a question from patients who should be treated as soon as possible due to their condition. Could you post the answer please? And I will not accept the ” …because I receive tons of mail…” Get a secretary then.

  3. My 31 year old daughter’s oral health continues to decline from pain medicine and other issues related to an accident she suffered 14 years ago. Her teeth are crumbling and she has lost several teeth over the past year. She had one tooth implant procedure but her body rejected the screw placed in her jaw. She has constant pain in her jaws and ears and the tooth loss limits what she is able to eat. What type of dentist should we approach to evaluate her bone structure, gum health, and ability to tolerate implants? Full removable dentals are an option but not preferred.

    • Hi Cherri,

      So sorry to hear about your daughter’s oral health issues. I’d suggest she sees an oral maxillo-facial surgeon. You could also ask your general dentist for a referral. They can evaluate your daughter’s oral health, including the pain in her jaws and her ears. If she is suitable, an oral surgeon can also place dental implants.

      Best regards,


  4. My fiance is in desperate need of replacing most if not all his teeth. He has cracked and teeth that have come out or have half enamel gone and severe pain due to exposed nerve. I hope there is an affordable way because of his job. Thank you. Lookin forward to hearing from you. Thank you

    • Hi Melissa,

      Sorry to hear your fiance has such problems with his teeth. I’d suggest he begin by visiting a general dentist to find out exactly what is wrong. They will at least suggest a treatment plan showing the anticipated costs. Some dentists will offer plans where you can spread the cost of treatment.

      Another solution is to contact any dental teaching schools in your area to find out if he is eligible for treatment by their students as their dental work tends to be very heavily subsidized. They are very closely supervised but the work can take longer to complete.

      Best regards,



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