Angie's LIST Guide to

Looking for a good local dentist? Review this guide to help you choose the best oral healthcare provider so you can have a long lasting smile.


Dental cleaning
When choosing a dentist, it's important to select a provider that you feel comfortable with. Don't be afraid to interview different oral health providers until you find the right fit.

Qualifications for a dentist

Dentists are doctors who, after earning a bachelor's degree, typically undergo four years of dental school to earn either a doctor of dental medicine (D.M.D.) or a doctor of dental surgery (D.D.S.) degree. Those dentists who want to practice one of nine dental specialties must complete two to four extra years of training.


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Angie's List Guide to Dental Care
The Angie's List Guide to Dental Care (Photo ©iStock)

To be licensed, these professionals must pass national written tests and a state or regional clinical licensing exam. The American Dental Association (ADA) is a professional organization that sponsors and promotes continuing education and serves as an advocate for federal and state legislation.

Check to see if your dentist is licensed!

Practitioners do a lot more than treat toothaches. They typically head a team comprised of dental assistants, hygienists, technicians and office staff. They stress preventive care for both children and adults. Many run a general dentistry practice that provides a variety of services for its patients, from filling cavities and removing wisdom teeth to cosmetic procedures typically not covered by insurance, such as placing dental veneers, thin shells that go over teeth to cover chips stains or gaps.

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Finding a good dentist who you trust remains vital to maintaining proper oral health. Since approaches to care differ, don't hesitate to to seek a second opinion from another dentist if you don't feel comfortable with a recommended treatment, either.

Why visit a dentist?

According to the American Dental Association, Americans lose an estimated 164 million work hours annually due to oral disease. Children and adults see a general dentist for preventive and restorative care, such as cleanings, periodic X-rays, fillings, the treatment of dental injuries, teeth whitening, sealants and fluoride, crowns and root canals. These practitioners also can offer advice on treating medical conditions such as sleep apnea.

Watch this video for tips on finding a good dentist:

Dentistry - General
Dentistry - Gum Care/Periodontics
Dentistry - Pediatrics
Dentistry - Orthodontics

The ADA recognizes nine specialties of dentistry. If you're looking for advice on preventing dental problems, you might consult a community dental public health specialist. If you need a difficult root-canal therapy, you might see an endodontist, who will remove the nerves and blood supply from the affected tooth. For nonstandard imaging of the head and neck, you would see an oral and maxillofacial radiologist.

An oral pathologist specializes in diseases of the mouth, such as cancer or ulcers. Children, teens and adults who want to straighten their teeth with braces or other appliances visit an orthodontist. Many families use a pediatric dentist, who focuses on dentistry for children and those with special needs.

If you require surgery on your mouth, jaws, teeth, gums, neck or head, you might call on the services of an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, who has the necessary training to repair conditions like a cleft lip or cleft palate. These surgeons also perform tooth extractions. Periodontists treat problems with the gums and with the bone that supports the teeth. Prosthodontists replace missing teeth with dentures or other permanent fixes like bridges and crowns.

5 tips for finding a dentist

If you haven't visited a dentist in awhile or have moved to a new city, you might not know how to find the most qualified dentist who best fits your needs. Follow these steps:

1. Check your plan. If you have dental insurance, your search for a new dental practice starts with the list of providers under your plan and in your network.

2. Consult Angie's List for dentist reviews. To qualify your list of dental care professionals in your area, check current licensing and review member recommendations, visit

3. Do your research. If you're looking for treatment of a particular oral ailment, consult Healthcare Blue Book, a free online guide that lists fair prices for healthcare services. The fair price is what a health service provider typically allows from insurance companies as full payment, which is substantially less than the billed amount.

4. Ask the right questions. When you call a practice, you should verify that the dentist participates in your insurance plan and learn about the financial policies before having any major work done. Comparison shopping is easy to do if you check estimated prices for common services, such as cleaning, X-rays or fillings. You also will want to know how the practice handles emergencies outside of regular business hours and its policy regarding missed appointments. Some prospective patients seek out detailed information on the dentist's training and approach to preventive dentistry. You might also want to ask how long newcomers must wait for a nonemergency appointment.

5. Visit the office. A dental practice should not object to visits from a potential patient, so long as your visit falls at a convenient time. This is your opportunity to check whether the office is orderly. The treatment area should look clean. Carpeted walkways and waiting areas should appear free of debris, and the office should offer accessibility for disabled patients. You will also see firsthand how friendly and helpful the dental staff is, and whether they seem professional.


I have a 3 tooth bridge with the front anchored to the root of a former tooth which has broken. My gum is slightly swollen !

I highly recommend for you to seek treatment with a dentist. your gum more likely is inflamed and could be infected . medication could be indicated.

In the event that you have a broken bridge AND a tooth under the bridge broken, if I am understanding correctly, it is beyond wise to immediately see your treating dentist. Though there may be no pain at this time, the tooth or teeth may be exposed which would definately cause pain sooner rather than letter. If you are in the Northern Virginia area feel free to contact our office at Herndon Dental Center and we would be more than happy to assist you! If not, I hope that this info was helpful! Good Luck!

I have no insurance, but I want dental implants and need to find a dentist that will take payments and is trusted by his . Patients...

My teeth are bad have u care for insurance but not sure that they cover anything don't have a lot of money either payments is the way I would have to go

dentures prices vary from 99 dollar denture to 1500 dollar denture.
I would recommend checking denture specialty clinic and discuss the best options .
I hope this helps .

I am in excruciating pain and I have been taking Aspirin, Tylenol and Naproxen. I am out of options and need help! I don't have an appointment with Gentle Dentistry but I can't handle the pain any more. Please help?!!!!

I joined your service in Jan. 2013, looking for a dentist that did dentures, but was not able to find any that met my needs. You graciously refunded my money, and I said I would be happy to post a review when I had found a dentist. I now have an excellent dentist, and would like to tell people about her. I also had a less than satisfactory dentist that I can mention after my complaint before the Dental Board is resolved. How can I post to you?

Hi Frances, So glad to hear that you finally found a dentist you are happy with! You can leave a review by copying and pasting this link into your Internet browser:   If you are interested in giving our service another try, call or sign up online with promo code "ANSWERS" for 20% off an annual membership. Thanks again!

I need a dentist near 17356 who does excellent and long lasting dentures

Lost my dentures not 2 long ago, in desperate need of new pair, can u help me? MY INSURANCE IS MEDICARE A-B & MEDICAL ASSISTANCE.

I need to find an oral surgeon in my area. I live in the Bronx zip code 10462.

I need to find a dentist who is skilled at working with people who have dental phobia.

When I have to visit a dentist I get very scared I also suffer from fibromyalgia and makes it more painful for me.

I needed a dentist that would do permanent implants. I have BCBShield

I have bad teeth and they are falling out. I have no insureances. They are getting worse. Don't have a lot of money. Need help. I just moved to LA Grange,NC 28551. I have a job, but making a lot less. Can u help me?

Need to find someone certified in the proper technique to remove the old mercury fillings in my teeth..

what about a pediatric dentist and dentistry ? help needed about pediatric dentist and dentistry

Hi there, We do have additional information on Pediatric Dentists. Click here to read more:

Thanks! -Katie from Angie's List

I see what appears to be a disturbing trend in dentistry - the advent of the Dentist/Salesman. After relocating from a different state, my new dentist seems to find more "issues" & pushes procedures for conditions which my old dentist felt we should only note and watch. My old dentist was top notch and treated me for over 20 years. Yet somehow in moving 600 miles west, my teeth suddenly have many more issues. I recently read where dental school costs have skyrocketed in the last decade or so, and that dental school grads often carry tremendous educational loan burdens. I suspect this burden has led too many away from being simply Dentists to being Dentists/Salesmen. I wish ratings in Angies list covered whether the patient felt he/she was getting only prudent/necessary treatment recommendations OR whether the provider seemed overly interested in pushing expensive procedures.

I changed dentists about a year and a half ago, and everytime I go in the dentist says I need a Crown! I never needed a crown before, and teeth are in good shape. I started getting suspicious after my second crown and now am changing back to Trimark. I only changed dentists since my husband and I lived so close to the other dentist. This particular dentist also told my husband he needed a crown which he did not do. He changed dentists at this office, since he felt she was kind of rough ,and the other dentist never mentioned a crown. I wonder if this dentist is just trying to get her 3 kids through college with crowns?

I recently got a bridge put in that looks good but feels to big.
The Dentist ground down some more of my tooth to get the bridge to fit.
It hurts when I eat as well as when I floss and swish water around in mouth.
I went back with pain and he ground some on the bridge as well as the crown below the bridge. Is this usual practice to drill on teeth other than the bridge or should the bridge have been sent back and a new one made? I am still have sensitivity pain when not even eating or touching the teeth below with the bridge.

Nice post!Even the most experienced periodontist will tell you that the dental implant process is best handled with a team approach that includes your general or cosmetic dentist working in concert with the dental implant dentist.

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