Patient Information

How to Choose a Dentist

It is generally acknowledged that more than 46 percent of consumers do not have a general dentist. Many consumers turn to the phone book to search for a new family dentist. However, this tool may not be the most reliable source of information. To help, the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) provides resources to help you look for a new dentist. Please visit Know Your Teeth and Find a Dentist.

Begin the Search

Call the AGD's consumer referral line, 1.877.2X.A.YEAR, to connect with three or more AGD member dentists.

Why should I choose an AGD dentist for my family and me?

Members that belong to AGD care about the long-term dental health for you and your family and demonstrate that concern by belonging to the AGD. Members are dedicated to continuing education to help them stay up-to-date on the latest procedures to provide you and your family with quality treatment. The general dentist who remains current in general dentistry is better able to offer you and your family a variety of diagnosis and treatment choices.

If you can’t find an AGD dentist, ask for recommendations. Family, friends, neighbors or co-workers can be excellent sources, and can refer you to a dentist they feel comfortable visiting. Ask your family physician or local pharmacist. If you are moving, your current dentist may be able to make a recommendation. Or, call your local or state dental society. Ask your sources:

  • What do they like about the office?
  • What do they like about the dentist?

Start With a Consultation

Call or visit more than one dentist before making a decision. During a consultation, note dental office and talk to the dentist about services available to you and your family. Ask questions:

  • Is the dentist a member of organized dentistry (AGD, American Dental Association, etc.)?
  • Does the dentist have any additional training (completed any residencies or fellowships)?
  • What is the dentist's commitment to continuing dental education?
  • What dental procedures are completed in-office?
  • What procedures will be referred out?
  • How does the dental team stay up-to-date with the latest procedures?
  • How are dental emergencies handled?

The Appointment:

After you have selected the dentist and dental office that meets your expectations and your needs, set up an appointment for a general exam, which consists of a cleaning, x-rays and medical health history. This visit is your opportunity to decide if the dentist and dental team:

  • Are personable, patient and caring.
  • Take time to answer your questions.
  • Are considerate of your time and comfort.
  • Demonstrate the professionalism you expect.

Your First Visit:

On your first visit you should expect to have a comprehensive exam which should include:

  • Radiographs (diagnose cavities and other abnormalities which can not be seen)
  • Hard Tissue Exam (diagnose cavities and other conditions in the mouth)
  • Intraoral/Extra oral Cancer Exam (should take around 1 min and consist of feeling the areas around the throat, mouth, lymph nodes, under and around the tongue, and in the roof of the mouth and cheeks).
  • Periodontal Probing (diagnose gum disease and determine appropriate dental cleaning regimen)
  • Prophylaxis (Cleaning of the teeth...This may not be started or completed on your initial visit. If you have gum disease or if it’s been several years between cleanings it may require two or more appointments to thoroughly remove the plaque and calculus/tartar from your teeth).