Many patients considering a smile makeover are unsure where to turn for help. So many dentists claim “cosmetic”, it gets confusing. You have likely noticed that almost every dental office has a name like “ABC Dental, General & Cosmetic Dentistry”. Cosmetic Dentistry is not a recognized dental specialty like Orthodontics or Oral Surgery so every dentist has the right to claim to be a cosmetic dentist. There are many dentists who practice general or family dentistry that are very good at cosmetics as well, so you may already be in the right place. How can you tell though? Here are a few ideas to consider.
#1 Dental Schools teach almost nothing about cosmetic dentistry and board exams don’t test it. I would ask any dentist you are considering trusting with your smile about additional training in the discipline and about any affiliations in scientific organizations that may signify their expertise. My favorite is the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. They have an amazing education program and attract dentists from all over the world that want to be the best.
#2 Ask to see before and after photos of work they have completed and possibly to see some testimonials or speak to satisfied patients. If they don’t do photography, I would consider that a red flag. My camera is my most essential tool. I did not always use it but when I really committed to being the best I could be, the camera was the difference.
#3 Any dentist ready to jump right in might be a little desperate and could be making decisions based on selling you rather than working to the best solution for you. When you go into the dentist with a toothache and need a root canal there are not many other options and you’re in pain so a quick discussion is acceptable. When it comes to something you don’t like about your smile, it’s not so simple. I like to start with photographs, impressions/models, maybe even a waxed sample of some possible changes to those models. To me it is like building your dream home. You work backwards from the vision and create a plan to follow.
#4 Watch the employees closely. Do they seem to believe in and have confidence in the doctor and his/her treatment recommendations?
#5 Do they offer any kind of warranty?
#6 Are they an expert at everything? This one scares me. I was very successful in academics and training but I have found in practice that I am better at some treatments than others. It didn’t come easy, but I can admit when I need the help my team of dental specialists to deliver the best outcomes possible.
#7 Huge discounts are a red flag. You get what you pay for in life. If they can offer huge discounts, they must be cutting a corner or using inflated prices to make you feel like you’re getting a deal. I know a dentist who gives discounts to people if the will “do the work today”. His employees claim they deal with a lot of buyer’s remorse because people don’t take the time to really understand their needs or options and get caught by the sales pitch. I am not against saving money and I do offer a break on bigger cases where I can save based on volume. My expenses, for example, on crowns decrease when I do more than one at a time. I am happy to pass those savings along, but I disagree with trickery in pricing.
Additionally, if you are seeking more than one opinion, don’t give out the details of the first opinion prior to getting the second. That will keep everyone honest!
Keep Smiling and Good Luck!
Brandon Taylor DMD