6 tips for choosing the right dentist

Brushing and flossing alone are no substitute for regular checkups with a dentist. These checkups are essential for keeping your teeth and gums healthy.

While some people don’t enjoy going to the dentist, if you follow these steps, you may come around. The key to a good patient/dentist relationship is finding a dentist you can trust with your oral health.

How to find the right dentist for you

If you have moved and are looking for a new dentist, don't have one currently or just want to try out a different dentist, here are a few ways to find one:

1. Ask for dentist recommendations

Ask your friends, family or coworkers. Chances are one of them has a great dentist they can recommend. You could also ask your healthcare provider or a pharmacist. Members of the medical community often know one another. If you are moving, ask your current dentist for advice. They might know somebody in the town or area where you are moving. If you need a dental specialist, such as an orthodontist or periodontist, your current dentist may be able to recommend a practice.

2. Cover the basics

After you have a few recommendations for a new dentist, you may want to call or visit more than one of them. Again, your relationship with your dentist is very important, so make sure you are a good fit for one another.

Here are some questions you may want to ask the dentist’s office:1

  • Do they participate in your dental plan?
  • Do they have office hours that fit your schedule?
  • Do they have an office close to your home or workplace?
  • How do they approach preventive dentistry?
  • How do they handle after-hour emergencies? (Most have arrangements with a colleague or an emergency referral service.)
  • How much do common procedures usually cost?
  • Do they have a missed appointments policy?

3. Request the dentist’s credentials

It’s a good idea to research the dentist’s medical background before you make a decision. Research the dentist’s education, experience and if they engage in continuous training.

You should also check if your potential dentist is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA). All ADA members are held to high ethical standards of care.2 Finally, confirm that the dentist has no history of malpractice claims.

4. Understand dental insurance coverage and costs

Study your dental insurance plan so that you know what it covers, what it doesn’t cover and which dentists are in your network. Staying within your plan’s network could help you minimize out-of-pocket costs for dental care.

Ask the practice about their costs. It’s okay to ask your dentist for estimates on some common dental procedures such as full-mouth X-rays, an oral exam, a cleaning and filling a cavity.

5. Research dental practice reviews

Many practices have reviews from patients available online. Find a trusted online review platform and look for highly rated dentists in your area. Take a close look at any low ratings to understand the complaint.

6. Visit the dentist office

One way to get the information you need about a dental practice is to visit the office in person. You could call ahead to schedule a consultation with the dentist or even arrange a tour if the office allows.

If you decide to visit a dentist's office, make sure you take note of the following:

  • Is their office clean, neat and orderly?
  • Does their equipment appear to be clean and up-to-date?
  • Did the dental staff answer your questions in a kind and courteous manner?
  • Do the dentist and staff wear gloves and protective gear?

Take care of your dental health

Just like any other healthcare provider, you owe it to yourself to spend a little time getting to know your new dentist. Choosing one may seem like an easy task. But remember, dental care is a very personal service, and you want this relationship to last for years and years.

Considering a new dental plan? Let’s find one that works for you.

Related articles


Individual and family dental insurance plans

From budget-friendly monthly premiums to low office-visit copays, Humana has a dental plan that is sure to fit your needs.

View plans and prices available in your area



Enroll by phone

Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. Eastern time

1-855-202-4081 (TTY: 711)

Find a dentist

See if your dentist is in our network


  1. “Your Top 9 Questions About Going to the Dentist—Answered!” MouthHealthy, last accessed April 14, 2023, https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/dental-care-concerns/questions-about-going-to-the-dentist.
  2. “Your Top 9 Questions About Going to the Dentist—Answered!”