Sticking with One Dentist: Why loyalty can translate into better dental care.

While every dentist wants patients to remain loyal and give them repeat business, it is often the patient who benefits the most from sticking with the same dentist over a long period of time. But most people don’t realize the important value of keeping the same dentist, and many of us jump around from one to another based on how close we live or work to their office, how much they charge for cleaning our teeth, or other reasons that may not be as important as our overall health. Once you find a good dentist, try to keep that doctor as your personal or family dentist for as long as possible, because the more your dentist gets to know you the more beneficial the relationship becomes.

Until you dentist knows your full dental history and has time to watch how your teeth or gums might develop, he or she is not as well equipped to recommend particular procedures, remedies, and maintenance tips. Some people have thin enamel, for example, and can benefit from a change in their diet or a different type of toothpaste. Others have receding gums. Dentists can measure the extent of the change over time and determine the best plan of action to prevent tooth and gum problems. Having a dentist who knows you and knows exactly what to watch for and observe each time you visit for a checkup means that you will get more personalized care and attention.

Of course even a brand new dentist who has never seen you before can use X-rays, a comprehensive dental exam, and a little bit of probing around and investigating inside your mouth to learn a huge amount of information about your dental health. But switching to a new dentist usually means that the same kind of thorough examination needs to be repeated, whereas a dentist who knows you will have detailed records and a file with your whole dental history. That saves time, money, and stress because you know that your dentist is well informed and aware of any potential problems you might have. He or she will also know if you have any special considerations such as fears about certain procedures, unwanted reactions to medicines, or your schedule. Some people travel frequently for work, for instance, and having a dentist who has been with you for a long time enables him or her to schedule appointments that suit your travel plans.

Keeping the same dentist also allows you the flexibility to plan procedures such as replacements of old fillings, repairs to damaged teeth, or cosmetic procedures like tooth whitening. Instead of taking any appointment whenever the dentist happens to have an opening among his or her regular patients, you can get preferential scheduling and can spread out the timing of dental visits to help you keep dental costs within your annual budget.

The best dentists often get so busy and popular that they no longer accept new patients, which is another big reason to stay with a good dentist. Once you have become a regular patient, in other words, there are a variety of benefits that come from the relationship – and all of them translate into better health care for you.

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