Each general dentistry practice approaches their work differently, and it's important to ask a number of questions before you settle on one that's right for you. Given the diverse range of things that a dentist does, it can be difficult to make sure you touch all the bases. Asking about these four topics can give you a good idea of who you'll be dealing with.
An estimated 50% of Americans do not consistently visit the dentist due to phobias. If you're someone who experiences dental anxiety, it's important to know in advance of any procedure exactly how the dentist prefers to handle such cases. Are they able to provide sedation dentistry, or do they prefer to prescribe something like diazepam, a variant of valium? You and your practitioner should absolutely be on the same page when it comes to handling any dental phobias.
Types of Fillings
Unless you happen to be the winner of the genetic lottery, there's a good chance that your dentist will do a few fillings for you at some point, and it's good to know what materials they use. Most practitioners now use a composite resin, and glass ionomer is also coming into greater use. Other materials such as silver amalgam and copper are still used, but some clients prefer to avoid them due to health claims.
If you're dealing with cavities that appear visibly darkened as a result of decay, you may also want to ask your dentist whether they can perform a caries control procedure. This involves using a medicated resin filling, and it may help you avoid a more expensive root canal. Many older practitioners are not trained in this procedure, so make a point of asking.
Consent When Ready
A general dentist may want to handle issues they spot on the same day of your first consultation, especially if they're not particularly busy. Do not consent to any procedure until you've had time to get comfortable with them as a dentist. It's better to pay for two visits and be in a good place mentally during the second one than it is to have doubts about your practitioner during a procedure.
Most general dentistry practices are made up of a group of people, usually including front desk personnel and at least one hygienist. Talk with everyone you possibly can at the practice before you settle on working with them. Good supporting staff can make a huge difference over time.