What Online Reviews Can and Can't Tell You About Prospective Dentists

Many healthcare providers, including local family dentists, are being evaluated not only in private by their patients, but also in online reviews. While some looking to find a new dentist may be made uncomfortable at the prospect of picking out a medical facility like a restaurant on Yelp or TripAdvisor, dentist ratings can be a helpful tool when you’re looking at a long list of dentists and trying to decide which to choose.

What Dentist Reviews Can Tell You

  • What a Dental Office’s ‘Feel’ Is: Dentist offices, like any other kind of environment, have different cultures. This might be as simple as how welcoming the décor is, but can also cover how warm and/or professional the staff is when dealing with patients. If you have a nervous child and need to look for a kid-friendly office, reviews can help you find that. If you want to be able to fit in a quick cleaning over lunch and don’t want to be in a noisy, kid-filled waiting room, online reviews can help you find that, too.
  • How Accessible a Dentist Is: Even among dentists who are accepting new patients, waiting times for appointments may vary significantly. And some offices are more able to accommodate last-minute appointments for dental concerns. If you are looking to see someone right away, or if you have a dental history that requires you to be able to make appointments quickly, scanning reviews might tell you how easy it is to schedule an appointment or how to get ahold of an emergency dentist.
  • Whether a Dentist Handles Special Areas of Concern: Some dentists specialize in certain areas of dentistry or specific techniques. For example, if you’re among the 31.3% of people over 75 who have lost all your teeth, you should look for a dentist who specializes in dentures and elder care. If you’re interested in a specific procedure, such as veneer placement (which has increased in popularity by 250% in the last five years), reviews might tell you what a certain dental office offers.

What Dentist Reviews Can’t Tell You

  • How Proficient the Dentist Is: Patient interaction is important, but patients may not always be able to accurately judge dental skill. Look up as much as you can about a dentist’s qualifications, and take other patients’ experiences into account. But ultimately, you won’t know how good a dentist is until he or she is working on your teeth.
  • How Much Your Dental Visit Will Cost: Even patients with insurance are often concerned with finding an affordable dentist. But keep in mind that procedures that may seem virtually the same to the patient might have very different costs for a medical professional. So even if it sounds like another patient went in with the same problem and got charged X amount, don’t rely on getting that same bill.
  • How Your Cosmetic Procedure Will Look: Cosmetic dentistry is a growing industry -- in fact, it’s grown 1.8% every year for the last five years. But no review can tell you what the outcome of your desired cosmetic procedure will be. You may not even know whether you are a good candidate for a certain procedure until you actually consult with a dentist in person.

Have you used dentist reviews to choose a new dentist before? What was your experience? Share in the comments.