Why it matters:
Good Dentist/Bad dentist
Why use the internet to find dentist?
Most people want to go to a good, ethical dentist near their home or work; statistics say within three miles of either and given the traffic in north county San Diego that has become even more important. Not long ago most patients found a dentist simply by asking their neighbors or friends. You asked your neighbors because you trusted them and they lived near you. If you were new to town or desperate you might look in the yellow pages ( These days with smart phones and Google many young people do not even know about the yellow pages)
Pros and cons of the internet
The internet has become the new century’s word of mouth. Today the Google search has replaced the phone book. With the addition of reviews to the search function the internet has combined the geographic physical search with the opinions of others much like asking your friends. In fact many use the internet to crosscheck the recommendations of their neighbors. We have come to trust the internet and the reviews found there. Do people abuse the system? Of course crazy patients or clients with vendettas malign businesses unfairly and some businesses pay for or post fake reviews to improve their image. But if you apply common sense, skepticism and a little research the internet can be a valuable resource to find a good dentist.
How to determine a valid dentist review
Most dentist searches start with a location,Carlsbad and the category dentist on Google. This usually brings up hundreds of results ranked both locally and across the web. The closest dentist often appear in the google local search results labelled “a’ to “g”. From this point most people begin to look at reviews on Google and other sites. But are the reviews valid and truthful? First look at the shear number of reviews, more is better. Compare the number between different offices. Compare different review sites, Yelp, Dr Oogle, Bing etc, are the reviews consistent? When were the reviews written and are the ratings going up or down? Often you can tell when a specific dentist has left a practice because the ratings change. More subtly, reviews filled with flowery language and written almost too well raise a red flag. Most people do not write that well unless they are professional or being coached. Another red flag occurs when all the highly rated reviews are from locations not near the practice. When the majority of reviews for a dentist are from out of town the dentist may just have had his friends write reviews or paid professionals. Many sites like Demandforce and Smile reminder, actually certify that the reviews are from actual patients.
Once you have selected a few dentists whose reviews seem valid and appealing visit their websites.
What to look for on a dental webiste
Look for a website that actually reflects the practice. If the doctors name is not on the door or in the title often you do not know who you are dealing with or who you are going to see. Big clinics have non descriptive or nonthreatening names. Many sites are designed by experts who are paid big money to attract and “close the deal.” You can often tell as they all look similar with smiling politically correct photos of models. The wording will be generic and very similar with catch phrases written by paid copy writers tailored to attract patients and driven by advertising principles to make the dental office sound good to the searcher. An easy way to find out is simply go to the bottom of the page and look for the copy-write info, this will tell you which big company made the site. They want to protect their formula. If a big company has created the site does it really reflect the dental office? Is what you see what you are going to get? Does the flowery language really represent the philosophy of the practice and match what you want?
Don’t just read the home page.Read their blog; Is it personal and informative or trying to sell you something?
Long Term dental relationships
If you want a long term relationship look at the relationships in the office . Read about the doctor and staff. Have they been in business long? How long have the staff worked together? Good staff make a good dentist and vice versa. If you are looking for a relationship you want stability and to know the person you see will be there in he future. Do you like what you see?
Dental Awards and Associations
Awards sold on line or self awarded declarations/specialties like “cosmetic dentist”, “top dentist” “best dentist” mean little if the source of the declaration is not listed or supported. I have actually called some of the self proclaimed “Top” dental offices and asked how they know they are the top only to have them hang up on me. OK, our website says “friendliest” dentist but we support that up with over 1500 reviews many of which mention we treat everyone like friends and family. Does the award have validity? Is it given by an organization you have heard of, a magazine, a news show etc.?
Memberships in organizations are nice but the fact is virtually any dentist can pay his money and be a member. We are not members of organizations for two reasons: we are stubbornly independent and have never been joiners of organizations. 2. These organizations have become political often with agendas that we do not agree with. We do not like to give money to politicians period. Many organizations push a particular agenda or procedure.
Photos and Procedures
Look for actual cases done by the dentist not canned photos that appear on multiple sites or cartoon representations of what is done.
Ask a Dental specialist: an Orthodontist, Endodontist, Periodontist or Oral Surgeon
Finally call dental specialists, Orthodontists, Endodontists and Periodontists in the area. They see work from all the local dentists and can tell you who is good.
If you follow these simple suggestions you should be able to find a dentist for you. How does our practice Bell Family Dentistry compare? We will let you decide.
If you do not feel comfortable after you visit the office you can always get a second opinion.