Walk down any high street for more than a few minutes and chances are you will see several dental practices. They are everywhere. With over 46,000 practicing dentists currently in the UK, it can be hard to know which personnel and practice will guarantee you the highest quality of treatment. Your teeth and gums are not something that you want to put in the hands of just anyone. Inappropriate treatment can have a negative affect on your physical health and appearance, as well as being a major expense and effort to rectify. With this considered, we give you four factors that indicate whether a dental practice will offer you high quality treatment and have a superb calibre of practitioners.
Despite the fancy promotional material that often adorns the windows of dental practices, the vast majority of their business comes from word of mouth, and through developing strong relationships with the local community. This is only achieved through offering treatment with lasting positive effects, excellent value and a pleasant customer experience. Longevity is therefore the most honest signal of quality in a dental practice.
Before choosing a practice to have treatment at, you should always find out how long that practice has been established for. The longer the practice has been established in one location, the better. If the practice can demonstrate that it has kept a hold of customers for a long time, then that is an even stronger indicator of its quality. People vote with their feet, and a loyal customer base is only ever developed through doing the right things time and time again.
The length of time that a practice has been operating for should be found on the practice’s website. If you cannot find it then ask the receptionist when you phone to make an enquiry.
As well as the length of time a practice has been operating in one place for being a reliable indicator of its quality, it is also important to know how long its staff have each been working there for. A team that has been working together for a long time is an indicator of an excellent practice for two reasons.
Firstly, excellent treatment is a product of a strong, near telepathic, understanding between the dentists and the nurses. Such a relationship takes time to build. Therefore, if the practice personnel is constantly chopping and changing, it is very unlikely that there will ever be the inter-staff relationships needed to deliver top class treatment.
The second reason why low staff turnover is indicative of a practice which keeps high standards, is that a high staff retention requires staff who are happy and motivated at work. Dentists, at the end of the day, are humans. The quality of their care will depend, in part, on their emotional state. When staff morale is high the work produced will always be better, and a low staff turnover is the fairest way to evaluate whether this is the case.
The length of time that staff have been at a practice should be available on the staff profile page of a practice’s website. If you cannot find it there, then the information should be provided by the receptionist when you call or email to make an enquiry.
The dental profession is informed by cutting edge technology. If we look back to how things were done just 20 years ago, we would see techniques that seem laughably out-dated today. Dental training, therefore, does not end when you finish dental school. Rather you need constant further education to stay up to date with the best science and practices of how to look after teeth.
By law, dentists are required to complete 250 hours of CPD every 5 years. However in reality, if they are to stay on top of the profession, they should invest a lot more time into education than that. If a dentist wants to claim expertise in any area they need relevant post-graduate qualifications at the very least. Ideally, they should be teaching post-graduates in that field. It is a practice owner’s responsibility to encourage such education in their staff.
A list of staff members qualifications should be found in the staff profile page of the practice’s website. If you cannot find this easily, then it should really be a cause for concern.
Dentists who teach postgraduate courses at institutions such as the UCL Eastman are the best informed to deliver outstanding treatment.
A dentist is nothing without high quality equipment. It is the equipment that allows the kind of precision guided work which characterises excellent dentistry. This equipment is of course very expensive, but it is an expense that any practice worth going to will not cut corners with.
Aside from facilitating the best dental treatments, investing in the best equipment also indicates that a practice has a constant supply of happy, repeat-purchase patients. Who else do you think pays for this equipment? This demonstrates that the practice provides the care that people deem worth parting with hard earned money for, and that they reinvest this money into the right things to support such care. This is simply a winning combination.
So do not be scared to ask your dentist about their equipment.
We also recommend that you choose a small, singularly owned dental practice over a corporate or chain. We feel that these types of practice are more likely to offer you bespoke care, treating you as a person rather than just another customer.