How to Choose Your Dentist (With Help from the Irish Dental Council)
The public expect that the dental care they receive will be of the highest quality, in a safe environment, using appropriate treatments and materials and that any aftercare necessary will be readily available.
Dental care is a highly personalised interaction between patient and dentist and will vary in degrees of complexity.
It is prudent that you visit a dentist on an ongoing basis to ensure continuity of care. Establishing a relationship with your dentist provides you with ready access to comprehensive oral healthcare advice or treatment thereby making oral conditions such as tooth decay and gum disease easier to detect and treat through early intervention. This will also significantly reduce the likelihood of the need for complex and expensive treatment later.
Ideally the choice of dentist should be made before any dental emergency arises to avoid having to make that decision in urgent or hurried circumstances. A dentist, in general practice, is qualified to provide all routine care and can also provide appropriate referrals in cases where more specialised treatment is indicated. Consider asking friends, family, neighbours or co-workers to recommend dentists with whom they have experience and have been pleased with their treatment.
All dentists in Ireland must be registered with the Dental Council (the regulatory body) in order to practice here. The Dental Council sets the standards for the regulation of the dental profession in Ireland. There are different regulatory systems in other countries.
Your initial consultation:
You should use your initial consultation as an opportunity to observe standards in the dental practice and to ask as many questions as necessary so that you can feel safe and confident with your choice of dentist. Satisfy yourself that the general appearance of the reception/waiting area, including the toilets, is to an acceptable standard of cleanliness and the dentist(s) and staff are neat and clean. As part of your initial consultation and in addition to questions about your dental history, you should be asked about:
• Your general health and medical history;
• Whether you have suffered from serious illnesses in the past;
• Whether you suffer from a chronic medical condition;
• Details of any medication that you have been prescribed;
• Your smoking history;
• Your previous surgery and general anaesthetics history.
Be satisfied with the standards of hygiene in the surgery
Registered dentists are obliged to operate under comprehensive guidelines on infection control within dental surgeries. You should satisfy yourself that:
• The dentist uses an autoclave (a medical sterilizer) to sterilize instruments;
• Gloves are worn by the dentist and his chair side staff at all times when you are under active treatment;
• New gloves are worn for each patient and that these are changed on their return
• If the treating staff leave the treatment area for any reason, such as taking a
• Telephone call;
• Handpieces (drills) are sterilized;
• New injection needles are used for each patient;
• Sterilized single-use cooling solutions / water is used for surgical procedures;
• Staff washes their hands between patients;
• All surgery working surfaces are clean, with disposable covers used on
• Surfaces touched during treatment.
Your treatment plan and options:
When discussing your proposed treatment with your dentist you should ask:
• What are your treatment options, what other choices do you have for some or all of the treatment suggested and how much will each option cost?
• What are the rates of success and / or complications associated with each of the options offered or suggested?
• Whether the dentist has references or testimonials from previous patients who have received this or similar treatment(s) including before and after photographs of treatment previously provided by that dentist?
• What happens if treatment is unsuccessful or you are unhappy with the result?
• If there are complications and further treatment is needed, is this an additional cost and who pays?
• Who do you contact for advice after treatment?
• Is there a complaints procedure in the practice and can you see it?
• Does the dentist have professional indemnity insurance cover?
• Does the dentist provide appropriate information in writing regarding
The cost of your treatment:
Before treatment is commenced you are entitled to know the cost (or best estimate) of the treatment and the way payment is to be made. You should feel free to discuss this with your dentist before treatment. Most dentists will be happy to discuss this with you, especially if you have any concerns in this regard.
Approved – Dental Council September 2010
Take time to be satisfied with your decision:
Time spent making the correct decision about your choice of dentist will contribute to building a trusting patient-dentist relationship which is established on mutual respect. This will maximise your peace-of-mind, minimise any potential for conflict and help in building a long-lasting partnership to protect your oral health.
Approved – Dental Council September 2010
About The Author:
This article is written by Dan, who is associated with Docklands Dental. Docklands Dental is an award winning dental practice based in the IFSC. They provide pain free practice, with cutting edge technology for patient communication, diagnosis and treatment. They offer specialist services for oral surgery and implant placement.
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