6 questions to always ask your dentist

Finding the right dentist is important to receiving quality care. Beyond trusting your gut, also read dentist reviews on Angie's List before making a selection to see what other patients are saying. To be sure you've found the perfect fit, ask your dentist these questions:

  • How long will an exam last and what's involved?
  • Will you or a dental hygienist clean my teeth?
  • Do you have a specialty?
  • Will I be given different treatment options and will my choices be explained to me?
  • What technologies do you employ for diagnostic and treatment work?
  • Do you take more of a conservative or assertive approach to dentistry?

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Comments

To the patient who ingested a strong bleach solution from a waterline that was not flushed out: Too bad the dentist did not realize that, since bleach is a base chemical, an acidic white vinegar/water solution would have neutralized it instantly....

Re: Ann Conway Clenching and grinding teeth, often leading to TMJ issues, is a symptom of heavy metal poisoning, particularly mercury poisoning. Look up symptoms on-line to see if you have others; it is quite a list. My extremely high mercury levels AND my symptoms all shrunk or disappeared after having my silvery amalgams replaced (with special protective procedures). Do you have or have you had silvery fillings? There are plenty of other sources, incinerators, hospitals, seafood so-so also.

Angie's: Why are comments not in any order (like date)? They seem to be added throughout with dates all over the place. It makes it very difficult to follow the thread. Very confusing.

Sore, irritated throat due to probable bleach contaminated wash -- slippery elm is an excellent way to soothe a sore throat and help it heal. There are a number of throat lozenges that contain it as a main ingredient at real Health Food stores (not like GNC), Whole Foods and possibly some Walgreens or similar -- it HAS made its way into the main stream purchases. Also, Vit C, up to 500-1000 mg an hour, really helps any sort of inflammation. Although this is a lot of Vit C, when the body is in your sort of acute situation, it uses much up quickly. You cannot be harmed by too much Vit C (but loose stools are a signal that you have more than enough for yourself at the time); it simply washes out. I would start at 500 mg and then raise it if I'm not having any appreciable relief and no stomach discomfort.

Has anyone got a chemical burn in their mouth or throat from bleach/chlorine in the water lines at a dentist office? That is what has happened to me! I had recently gone to the dentist to get composite material put on my root tissue (receding gum line). The dentist uses water during the process. I recently started going to this dentist who retired from his practice and only sees patients on Fridays, using another dentist's office. Water was not coming out of the first line he choose but there were two lines. Once he started to work on me, I felt a burning sensation but also a horrible smell. I waited maybe 60 seconds before motioning him to stop (my mouth open, can't speak of course). He agreed that he also smelled bleach or chlorine, and mentioned that dentists have to clean the water lines, usually weekly, from bacteria and they put chlorine tablets in the line and then flush the lines. The dentist who has this office said they use a bleach to water solution and somehow I must have gotten a small amount in my mouth, which quickly trickled down my throat. After I stopped the dentist, I asked to rinse out my mouth, which I did, but I failed to gargle. That may have helped me! My glands in my throat immediately swelled up that afternoon and I have had a sore throat, for two weeks, am beginning my 3rd week. I went to see my medical doctor, who said my throat was definitely "irritated" and prescribed amoxicillin and steroids. Has this happened to anyone? What can I do to help myself heal and how long will it take for the sore throat to subside?

HELLO, SORRY THIS HAPPENED TO YOU. YOU CAN PROBABLY SUE THE DENTIST AND AS FOR THE DOCTOR'S PRESCRIPTION, IT SEEMS WRONG TO PRESCRIBE AN ANTIBIOTIC AND STEROID DRUG. I SUGGEST YOU TRY SOME GENTLE SOOTHING, NATURAL REMEDIES. EITHER CONSULT A NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR, OR HERBALIST, OR NUTRITIONIST AND/OR TRY CHAMMOMILE TEA AND DGL LICORICE LOZENGERS, 2-3 TIMES PER DAY FOR A LONG TIME....TO HEAL THE INJURED TISSUE AT THE BACK OF YOUR THROAT. FIGHTING POISIN WITH MORE POISIN SEEMS LIKE ADDING INSULT TO INJURY. MOST DRUGS ARE TOXIC AND OFTEN HAVE BAD SIDE EFFECTS. I TAKE DRUGS ONLY AS A LAST RESORT. GOOD LUCK TO YOU. I'VE BEEN USING CHAMMOMILE TO HEAL BURNED ESOPHAGUS AND THROAT FROM ACID REFLUX. ALSO, I GOT A GALLON ALOE VERA JUICE FROM TRADER JOES AND DRINK 8 BIG SIPS NIGHTLY AS WELL. I DONT FEEL THE BURNING ANYMORE...AND BE CAREFUL NOT TO EAT ACIDIC FOODS OR LIQUIDS AND SPICEY THINGS. ALMOND MILK IS ALKALINE AND SOOTHING ALSO. ALSO SLIPPERY ELM LOZENGERS FOR TEMP RELIEF. I HOPE THESE HELP. KEEP AT IT FOR A FEW MONTHS. I WOULDNT TAKE THE DRUGS IF I WERE YOU. THERE ARE ALSO COMPLEMENTARY MDs WITH NEWSLETTERS AND ARCHIVES, AND SOME HAVE QUESTIONS YOU CAN ASK. ALSO NUTRITIONISTS. GOOGLE NATURAL HEALING AND STAY AWAY FROM UNNATURAL TOXIC DRUGS FOR THIS. HOPE TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR HEALED THROAT ON THIS SITE.BEST TO YOU.

Worthless article

This thread from beginning to end is some of the most ridiculous nonsense I have ever read, and is what's wrong with society today. I am a dentist, and will tell you that just like any intelligent person, you should find a dentist by asking your friends or other people in the area (including Angie's list), do your research, then feel it out. Those questions listed above are useless. Dentist or hygienist clean your teeth? Really? The comment about dentists being "hustlers" and pulling a "bait-and-switch" is rubbish. I went to dental school so I could legitimately help people, not to be a snake oil salesman, and I laugh when people make those kind of assumptions. It's sad. When I make treatment recommendations, I have a very good reason for doing so, and I only recommend what I would want done to my own tooth. Beware of offices that cater to children? Beware of this gum disease nonsense? There's an intelligent comment. According to the American Association of Periodontology, periodontal disease is wildly UNDER diagnosed! Yes it is a real disease. Yes it is a bacterial infection. And when you have a heart attack because those bacteria traveled through your bloodstream to cause inflammation of the innermost epithelial lining of your coronary arteries resulting in a blockage, you will experience its "reality".

If you are having a crown made, ask your dentist if the work is being done in the USA and if they chose their lab based on quality or on price. Go somewhere else for the work if the answer is based on price.

Never get silvery (amalgam) fillings. They're half mercury; I just had mine removed after testing revealed I had extremely high levels and maladies that deeply affected me for 30 yrs literally disappeared the day the first half were removed. Amalgam fillings are poison.

Moving to a new city and going to one dentist after another here in Tucson, Az, received various types of services. The 3rd dentist could not deaden my molar to do a root canal so was referred to a specialist and FINALLY received an excellent outcome.

I am a hygienist, and Julia is right, dentists are not trained in "cleaning" teeth, and as she states it is way more complicated than just cleaning teeth. A good hygienist can make the difference in your leaving the office with a healthy mouth vs just a so-so job. The doctors do not come in to "check" the hygienist's work, (if he needs to do that, then he needs a new hygienist!)He comes in to check for cavities, oral cancers, abnormalities of the mouth and to answer any questions the patient may have. Hygienists are caring, competent professionals who deserve your respect. We deal with patients who have so many different issues, sensitive gums from poor homecare, sensitive teeth from recession, grinding, etc, patients who will not work with the hygienist in opening far enough so she can do her job properly, patients who insist they can not lay back in the chair for less than an hour the appointment takes, causing her to have to stand and bend over for that same hour,(think how her back hurts after an hour of that position); patients who arrive late then say they need to be out quickly because they have other things to do, all the while, expecting an excellent job even though they do not expect such perfection from themselves. We deal with people who bring their children along and allow them to run around unsupervised or try to talk to them while we are trying to "clean" their teeth. They think the supplies we provide to them are free so they often ask for extras, not knowing that the office has to pay for these things. They expect to talk on their phones for a good portion fo the visit, do not have the good sense to visit the bathroom facilities BEFORE they are called back to the operatory, so use precious time that should be devoted to the care of their mouths. They try to read magazines or text messages while we are working on their teeth. They do not listen to our advice about flossing and brushing, yet do not understand why in an hour visit we can not miraculously heal all the bleeding and sore gums from the six months or more of neglect. We want to help our patients and take great pride in doing so, but so many patients just look at us as lower class citizens who just "clean" teeth! Please do not take this as a bitter diatribe against patients, because most of us love our jobs and our patients, even the difficult ones, but sometimes people seem to be clueless as to how much effort goes into their "cleaning" appointment. I hope that anyone who reads this will thank their hygienst at their next visit for being the caring, kind, thoughtful professional she is.

The issue is: Dentist get away with whatever they want to get away with. We were told our 4-year-old needs $2400 of fillings, in baby teeth! This was 6 months after getting clean bill of health. We are ABSOLUTELY getting a second opinion. Beware of practices that cater to children. And beware of the "gum disease" nonsense. Yes it is real. But like other issues, WILDLY over-diagnosed, in my view. Too many dentists are hustlers.

As the prospective dentist which dentist they use for dental care. Then, use their dentist.

I've been told the best dentists are trained by the Pankey Institute. Now my daughter has moved to another state and her new dentist says the Pankey dentist did everything wrong.

I am somewhat in agreement with Dave Manley, although I wouldn't go so far as to say the article is useless. What difference does it make if the dentist or a hygienist cleans my teeth? I think most people would agree that a hygienist is well versed in cleaning teeth so that shouldn't be an issue. A better question would be whether the dentist comes in to check on the cleaning afterwards and answer any questions. Also, what is a conservative approach versus an assertive approach? That probably isn't clear to most of us.

I've found that it's trial and error to find a good dental agency. I saw many providers until I found one I feel comfortable with. Unfortunately, 3 different dental agencies can give you 3 different plans of treatment, so you have to go with your gut, your finances and the length of time given for procedures.

Al, I have Kaiser also and live in No Va. Kaiser has set fees for service- which are not cheap, but allegedly better than no insurance. Since they switched to Dominion dental insurance, the fees are higher than they used to be.

I am a hygienist and a dentist and fell uniquely qualified to answer the question of whether or not it matters if a dentist or hygienist cleans your teeth. It absolutely matters. Dentists DO NOT get training in this area. Hygienists go through a 2 year program to be qualified to "clean" your teeth, though it is so much more than just "cleaning". Dentists get about a one week overview and maybe a day or two of instruction on the actual instrumentation which is a skill that takes a significant amount of time to master.

I agree with Dave M and Cheryl. You need to understand what to look for. I work with dental teams and in most cases prefer to have a hygienist clean my teeth. That is what they are trained for, dentists go to school to learn to fix tooth related problems. For Ann Conway, you need to see a specialist called a prostodontist and you need to know what schooling they have had in jaw relations and their philosophy of care relating to that. Some do surgery, some do a kind of splint therapy. You need to fix the jaw problem before you fix the teeth or you will just keep fixing the teeth. You are right your teeth will eventually crumble, your jaw puts 2000 pounds of pressure on your teeth and when you grind this obviously becomes a problem.

I agree with Dave Manely. Without guidance on the answers, this article is useless.

It's all well and good to know what questions to ask, but how do you evaluate the answers. What is the significance of each question? Why does it matter how long the exams lasts? I've never had a dentist clean my teeth - always the hygenist. More info is needed to have a meaningful report.

Ann, Sasha is correct to a certain extent. If you are in fact clenching and/or grinding, there is a reason for that and if you just fix it with bonding or crowns you will eventually do the same to these restoration. You need to evaluate why you are clenching and/or grinding. Correct that and then correct the cosmetic issues and protect with some type of hard night guard that is adjusted properly.

This article is nearly useless. Unless you give guidance on what answers the dental patient should be looking for, we can't know how to evaluate the answers the dentist gives. Does it really make a difference if the dentist or a hygienist cleans my teeth? Is a more conservative or assertive approach better? I have no idea. Angie, this article could have been useful; instead I just wasted 10 minutes.

I am going to a dentist to get my teeth cleaned and find out what the cost of treatment will be. The University of Tennessee Dental School is here in Memphis and I'm thinking of going to them rather than the dentist that cleaned my teeth.

Even with a Diagnodent, x-rays are still needed as the laser can't find decay in between teeth.

how can I find a dentist who accepts Kaiser Insurance, I live in Prince William/Fairfax county VA

re: ann conway it sounds like you are clenching or grinding your teeth which has caused the enamel to chip at the gumline, these can usually be fixed with simple white fillings, but may require caps or crowns if they are more severe, I hope this helps

My tooth enamel is wearing away on my 2 front teeth in an arc shaped line going from the middle of the two then the line arcs up and away from the center on each tooth. It's suddenly getting very noticeable and the worn ares are beginning to stain. Is there a specialist and a specific technology to treat this problem before my teeth crumble? In addition to health it looks terrible.

Pensioned veteran who needs extensive restorative care and has no funds.

Thanks for your comment, Sergio! By asking what specialty your dentist — or a dentist you're researching — has, you can tell if that person can better address a specific issue you're having. As for technology, some patients are fine with having their dentist use X-rays to check for cavities, while others want dentists that employ the the latest technologies in their office, such as the Diagnodent (a laser that checks the tooth enamel for differences in density). Learn more about dental specialties by following the below link to "A guide to common dentist specialties": http://magazine.angieslist.com/Articles/2010/June/NATIONAL/A-guide-to-common-dentist-specialties.aspx Learn more about dental technology by viewing our podcast, " Find a dentist: Technology, education play an important role": http://www.angieslistpodcasts.com/Blog/May-2010/Find-a-dentist-Technology-education-play-a-role.aspx

I don't know anything about dental technology or specialties. How do I benefit by asking these questions?

The dentists I have seen in Florida are all "bait and switch." they tell you that you have gum disease when there is no evidence except age so that they can charge $70 extra for cleaning over your insurance plan.

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