Choosing a dentist is one of the most important decisions you’ll make for you and your family. You want someone who is experienced, knowledgeable, honest and affordable. Plus, you want to feel comfortable with your Kansas City dentist and be able to trust his or her advice. So where do you start? Where do you look? What do you look for? And what questions do you ask?

First, slow down and take your time. But don’t take too long you don’t want to risk an emergency and have to settle for the first dental office with an open appointment.

Here are some tips and suggestions to help you find your Kansas City dentist:

Ask friends and family: The best way to find a new dentist is to ask people you know and trust. If your best friend knows a great dentist, then you will want to find out more about him or her.

Check online profiles and reviews: Be sure to check out the dentist’s website, Facebook and/or Instagram presence. The website will give you information on his or her experience and areas of expertise, while social media will let you in on the personality and tone of the practice. How does it interact with patients? Are there any reviews or complaints? How are they answered by the staff?

Stay close to home or work: It will be much easier to schedule visits and arrive on time if you find a dentist who’s nearby. If you have kids, you might want to find a dental office close to their school so they don’t miss more time than necessary. Check the dentist’s hours, too, to make sure they’re convenient for your family.

Inquire about insurance and payment plans: You need to know if the dentist you select accepts your insurance. If not, you’ll need to go elsewhere. Ask what other payment options the dentist accepts: credit cards, checks, payment plans? Costs vary by dentist. Ask for estimates on common procedures like yearly hygiene appointments and cleanings. Even with insurance, you sometimes pay part of the costs yourself.

Professional qualifications: The dentist’s website or office should be able to tell you about his or her training and experience. Ask if he or she is a member of an organized dentistry organization (such as the ADA or AGD). You can also obtain information about a dentist’s qualifications from the local dental society or your insurance carrier. Most state dental boards have a website where you can verify that a dentist is licensed.

Ask which procedures the dentist can do and which he refers out: Dentists with more experience and expertise can handle more problems that may arise. Any dentist can clean teeth and take x-rays, but not all dentists can truly read those x-rays and find future problems. Similarly, not all dentists specialize in implants or Invisalign. Figure out what your needs are and find a dentist who is up to the challenge. Also, ask what happens when you have an emergency, whether during normal office hours or at night or on a weekend. You should be able to contact your dentist (or a suitable substitute) at any time of the day.

Meet for a consultation: Once you have narrowed down your list, call and visit them. One of the most important things to consider when choosing a dentist is how comfortable you are with him or her. And you can’t determine that unless you actually meet. You also need to know if you feel comfortable asking questions about payments, expressing your fears or explaining symptoms. If you visit a dentist’s office, you’ll be able to experience how the office staff treats patients and each other. Are they kind, helpful and caring? Do they seem to enjoy working there? What mood does the office environment exude: a happy, positive one, or a negative, depressing one?

It might take some time to find your Kansas City dentist, but the selection process is important as it will lead you to the best dentist for you and your family. If you are currently looking for a dentist, please consider Gordon Dental. At Gordon Dental, we pride ourselves on putting our patients first and delivering superb care and value every time. Dr. John Gordon has been taking care of patients and transforming smiles for more than 30 years. We invite you to visit our office and meet Dr. John, our hygienists and new patient coordinator to see what we’re all about. We look forward to meeting you and becoming your Kansas City dentist! FInd out more at www.kcgordondental.com.