Wondering how to choose the best dentist for your smile design?
If you’ve made the decision to search and choose the best dentist to start your smile design journey, kudos to you! Truly, it’s a choice that undoubtedly boosts your confidence when smiling, speaking, and even taking photos!
Here, I’ll share all the guidelines to help you select the ideal dentist, as this is the pivotal step for a truly successful treatment. Being a dentist myself, and not just any dentist but one deeply passionate about dentistry, it pains me to see colleagues who lack that same passion or who view this profession merely as a means of livelihood or, worse yet, as a way to unethically “cash in” on their patients. With over 14 years of experience, I’ve compiled a checklist that, if followed to the letter, will guide you to a top-notch dentist who meets and exceeds your expectations.
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Consider the Experience of Your Dentist
This is something that, 13 years ago when I was just starting my dental career, hit my ego hard, and I had to learn from my experiences with patients. In college, I was always among the top students, excelling not just academically but also in practice. I took on additional tutorials, further training, and was even starting my first diploma during my final semester. My entire day revolved around studying. So when I graduated, I believed that those 3 years of university experience would suffice. It was disheartening when I wasn’t hired somewhere simply because I was a recent graduate.
However, when I reflect on the confidence with which I used to speak to my patients back then, and compare the stark difference in quality between my earliest treatments and what I deliver now, I realize how much weight years of experience truly hold. They are crucial in selecting a skilled dentist. I found that the “magic number” is ensuring your dentist has at least 5 years of professional experience. That’s the period it takes for a dentist to mature sufficiently to produce outstanding results and to truly come into their own as seasoned professionals. This is why at Viena Clinic, all our practitioners have a minimum of 5 years of experience, and we are quite strict about that.
Choose the best dentist: Check Their Training
Dentistry is an art that largely depends on the dentist’s skill, but a significant portion also hinges on the latest advancements in the dental field: the technology behind every resin, every polishing tool, and even the method of cleaning the tooth to ensure the resin’s longevity. This is why dentistry requires us, the dentists, to undergo continuous training to keep up with these novel techniques and learn the application and benefits of new materials that are introduced almost daily. Ensure that the dentist you choose for your treatment consistently upgrades their skills. You can ask them directly or review their curriculum vitae to ensure you’re opting for someone who’s dedicated to providing the best.
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Choose the best dentist: Ask for Before and After Photos
This step will not only give you insight into the quality of their treatments but also enhance your communication with your dentist. It allows you to specify the type of smile design you desire, how white you want your teeth, their size, and so on.
Also, when examining the photos, ensure that the resin or ceramic from the design isn’t overlapping the gumline and that the gums don’t appear irritated (the only exception would be if the patient recently underwent gum contouring). If the resin rests on the gum, it can lead to inflammation, bad breath (halitosis), or even permanent damage to the bone, which can erode in response to inflammation.
Choose the best dentist: Observe How They Treat You and Their Assistants
This point is non-negotiable for me. As humans, of course, we all have our off days. However, as dentists, we deal with patients who come to us with pain or concerns. The very least we can do is treat them in the best manner possible, just as they deserve. This forms the foundation of a successful dental treatment and fosters a long-term relationship. A dentist isn’t someone you’ll see just on the day of your smile design. They are the individual who will continue to care for your teeth, ensuring the longevity of your treatment and the well-being of your other teeth that didn’t require any design, making sure no significant problems arise.
Also, take note of how they treat their assistants. A dentist who mistreats someone assisting them daily in their work is likely not the best person to trust with your smile.
Choose the best dentist: Look for a Comprehensive Approach
As I mentioned at the beginning of this blog, dentistry isn’t just reliant on the dentists themselves, but also on the materials, equipment, and techniques we employ. I understand that for you, as a patient, it might be challenging to discern if the latest materials or optimal techniques are being used, especially when you’re lying back with your mouth open, unsure of what’s being done.
So, here’s a tip: observe the range of procedures and materials they use. Check if they apply various solutions before using resin, place different materials on your tooth, and use numerous steps when polishing. Quality dentistry typically involves many more steps and tools than mediocre practices. Our profession is steadily moving away from speed to a slower, more meticulous approach, ensuring every step we take is geared towards treatments that are kinder to the tooth, more aesthetic, and longer-lasting.
So, if you notice a variety of procedures and materials being used in your mouth, rejoice! You’re likely in the hands of a competent dentist!
Ask Any Necessary Questions if You Still Have Doubts
We understand that, even when we try to avoid technical jargon, there are terms we might inadvertently use that could be confusing. If you’re with a good dentist, no matter how many times you ask, they should comprehend that any treatment can raise questions. These treatments will last a long time in your mouth, and many of them can come with significant costs. That’s why a great dentist will always be patient, taking the time to explain until you feel at ease and have a clear understanding of the treatment.
Ensure They Are Licensed According to Local or National Regulations
This is a point that many patients often overlook, but it’s essential to ensure your treatment is being conducted by a fully qualified dentist. For instance, in Colombia, and especially in Medellín, we have a strict regulatory body called the “Secretaria Seccional de Salud” that grants us a certification symbolized by a star, indicating we are authorized to practice.
These stars are displayed in the waiting room, corresponding to the dental services we offer. They signify our commitment to regular check-ups and adherence to a comprehensive checklist, ensuring our patients can feel entirely at ease, knowing they’re in capable hands. Unfortunately, there are many clinics operating without these necessary permits, meaning they don’t even meet the minimum requirements to treat you.
Membership in a Professional Association
Membership in a professional association is another important consideration. At Clínica Viena, all our dentists belong to one association or another. The significance of this is that we continually receive firsthand information from our dental community and regularly undergo training and gather information to improve our clinical practice. Thus, checking if your prospective dentist is part of a professional association should be on your checklist when seeking the best smile design expert.
Choose the best dentist: Additional Advice
Being well-acquainted with the dental profession, I’d also like to inform you about certain misconceptions when choosing a dentist for your smile design. Many people believe that if a dentist caters to celebrities, influencers, soccer players, and the like, they must be among the best in the field.
I want to clarify that this isn’t always the case. While some dentists who treat celebrities are indeed exceptional (and I would personally recommend them), there are others who might be well-known, but whose work I’ve seen firsthand and found lacking. I’ve encountered patients seeking a second opinion, who come from these celebrity dentists, with issues like deteriorating teeth, bleeding gums, and poorly finished resins that overlap the gums (try the nail test: ensure your nail doesn’t get caught between the tooth and gum when you run it over). Hence, I suggest following the criteria I’ve outlined above to ensure you find the best fit for your needs.