When you make an appointment to see a new dentist, he or she may ask you to attend an initial consultation rather than go for a cleaning right away. If your dentist has structured his or her treatment of patients this way, you'll likely visit the clinic to have x-rays taken and for the dentist to conduct an initial assessment of your mouth. Even though you won't be getting any work done at this appointment, you'll have a good opportunity to assess the dentist and his or her staff. Here are some things that you should evaluate during your consultation.
How at Ease You Feel
If you have even the slightest amount of anxiety about visiting the dentist, an important thing to evaluate is how at ease you feel. Different dentists provide different feelings of ease, and your first consultation with a new dentist is a good time to think about how you feel in the presence of not only this dentist but also his or her dental hygienists. Are the staff members warm and do you get the sense that they're devoting a lot of time to speaking to you? Are subtle things present, such as frequent eye contact or a reassuring hand on the shoulder? These are positive signs to notice.
How Well the Dentist Explains the Procedures
In addition to their technical proficiency, the best dentists are also highly adept at being able to communicate with their patients. During your initial consultation, the dentist will talk about what upcoming procedures you'll need. The first thing on the agenda will likely be a cleaning, but it's also possible that you'll need to get a cavity filled or have some other dental work done. Notice how the dentist communicates these procedures to you. You should have a clear understanding of the upcoming work.
How the Dentist Responds to Your Questions
An initial dental consultation is the perfect opportunity to ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable and confident about your dental health. Whether you want to ask something about the dentist's background or you recall a past procedure that you had and you want to get the dentist's opinion about it, you should have adequate time to engage in as much back-and-forth discussion with the dentist as possible.
If you've evaluated these things and the dentist passes with flying colors, you can feel confident to book your next session.