Tips how to find a good dentist
if you (assume you) need one
Although Healing Teeth Naturally recommends avoiding dentists wherever possible, some situations (such as when damaging dental work has already been done), require finding a dentist that helps you undo what other dentists have done. Before we begin - apologies are owed to those dentists who actually care. While they do exist (and some of them are frequently mentioned on this site), they clearly seem to be in the minority.
Be aware that dentists sell oral surgery services
First of all, dentists aren't physicians but surgeons. While the French language makes that quite clear ("chirurgien-dentiste"), the English1, German and other languages hide that fact. A surgeon typically will not try to convince you of attempting to heal your "defective" organ yourself but will tell you you need his knife (here: drill) to get better.
Dentists need and want to make money
Fully equipping a dental practice (surgery) is expensive, and the investment made has to be earned back via income derived from the treatment of "patients" (you are called patient but in fact you are a client). Additionally, dentistry can be extremely profitable and some dentists will try to "make the most" of the opportunity. To give you an idea of the mindset you may encounter: Reporter William Ecenbarger who did revealing research into the quality and honesty of US-American dentists using himself as a guinea pig, quotes from a periodical that advises dentists on their business, "Patients need to be sold TWICE - in the office and when they get home".
Be aware that there are dishonest and incompetent dentists
To put it mildly (and following from the foregoing), not every dentist (the same for that matter applies to other surgeons and/or doctors) has your best interests at heart. They are likely not to tell you about ways you can truly help yourself - one telling example of many is the "deafening silence" surrounding xylitol (see for instance this comment by a German dentist on the subject of xylitol against tooth decay) - and they may try and persuade you to accept expensive but unnecessary restoration and other dental work. See the extensive coverage of the subject of dishonesty, overtreatment and misdiagnoses at Ten dentists - ten diagnoses and Your dentist's treatment plan and diagnosis...honest and reproducible or influenced by financial interests? as well as the numerous examples "hidden" in Healing Teeth Naturally's Natural testimonials and Conventional testimonials sections.
Beware of incompetent alternative/holistic dentists
Some self-proclaimed non-conventional dentistry "experts" can do and have done (additional) damage, see Healing Teeth Naturally's page on the subject.
Tips how to find a good dentist for mercury, cavitation and other dental hazards removal
Generally, see the organizations and individuals listed under Mercury-free and/or holistic dentistry. All of them should be able to provide you with addresses of qualified dentists.
Dentist Stuart Nunnally DDS MS specifically recommends to ask your future dentist the following three questions before making your decision:
- Does the dentist use a rubber dam? A rubber dam is the first line of defense from protecting the patient if mercury is being removed.
- Does the dentist and do the staff take protective measures to keep from being exposed to mercury themselves? Dr. Nunnally feels that if they did they surely would try and protect the patient as well.
- Does the dentist use the mercury amalgam scavenger? Such a unit (aka as a "platypus) suctions and filters the air close to the patient's face and thus prevents the mercury waste from going into the public water supply. This is a simple but absolutely necessary measure to take in the dental office which every dentist should implement since dentists are the largest polluters of waterways with mercury in the world.
If your prospect dentist answers "yes" to all three questions, Dr. Nunnally feels that might be a dentist you might want to consider.
Tips how to find a "good" dentist for general purposes
1 Go to a dental school and be treated by a student
While students enrolled in a university's school of dentistry can (and likely occasionally will) make mistakes, they are not motivated by profit. Their primary interest is to do the best possible job. In other words they will take their time to carefully examine your teeth, they will only do treatments that their (salaried and hence equally financially disinterested) instructors approve of and they will do them with painstaking care. What they will not do is rush (and thus botch up) a job, try to overtreat and/or sell you additional profitable procedures etc. You are also likely to pay less.
2. Find a beginning dentist or perhaps better, a dentist who employs a beginner
A similar reasoning may apply in this scenario. "Eager to please" such a dentist is less likely to just try to rip you off. An example: a friend of mine had a number of "half-veneers" placed on her front teeth since the enamel had started to come off. All of these fillings came off shortly afterwards and had to be replaced, with each time more of the healthy enamel being removed - until she had one done by a beginner, who took great care and pride in painstakingly applying the veneer. This was 30 years ago, and that "half-veneer" is still going strong while the other three have either long broken off (since then no longer replaced) or chipped.
3 Ask friends who have lots of experience with different dentists
This piece of very valuable advice comes from a blog published in French. Its author (age 50+) had been very content with his dentist for some 20 years until some "different from normal" work was done in his mouth (a crown2 that turned out to be ill-fitting) which over the course of several years drove him to eventually feeling suicidal! The causes of his anguish were near-constant discomfort or pain, the inability to sleep (his mouth could not be closed) and his original dentist never admitting any fault let alone rectifying it while belittling his problems and intimating that it was all in his head (he was right of course but not in the way he had meant it). It even took this long-suffering and very patient patient several visits to other dentists before years down the road, he was helped in any noticeable fashion.
Now this "dentistry victim" advises the following: if you want to find a good dentist, ask advice from a person over 50 or in any case someone who has had lots of experience with dentists. During the first 20 years of treatment by the dentist who later caused him so much suffering and damage, this man would have most heartily recommended that dentist! Interestingly and revealingly, the author of the blog does not disclose the names of the dentist(s) involved for fear of reprisals.
So if for whatever reason you wish or have to consult a dentist (please take the time to learn about some of the risks, damages and dangers as well as numerous reasons for avoiding conventional invasive dental treatment at Drilling & filling teeth: an unwise choice? as well as at the entire Conventional section of this site beforehand), if at all possible, get more than one diagnosis - judging by William Ecenbarger's experiential findings, you would need to ask five opinions to have a chance of getting one that is appropriate.
4 Once you have a specific dentist in mind, try finding patient reviews of his or her work online
There are a number of online venues allowing consumers to post reviews of products and//or services. To find out more about the quality of the dentist you are thinking of seeing, check if there are patient reviews of his or her services posted online (such as at www.doctorscorecard.com, www.yelp.com, www.ripoffreport.com and various consumer protection sites).
2 Crowning can kill teeth, see Risks of dental crown placement.