Depending on where you live in the state of North Carolina, finding a dentist in some areas of the state can be challenging. In some areas, the challenge will be deciding which one is right for you.
For example, finding a dentist in Raleigh – the state capital – is much easier than finding one in some of the more rural areas of North Carolina. Raleigh is in a county that has more than 250 general dentists to choose from – a per capita rate that exceeds the national average. However, there are some counties in the state that have no dentists. Recent statistics showed that only eight counties in the state exceed the national average for availability of dentists per 1000 residents.
In general, dental care is more accessible in counties that are in close proximity to the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry, possibly because of the presence of the school and possibly because Chapel Hill is part of a high-growth urban area of the state where several major universities are located. Like finding a dentist in Raleigh, it’s also relatively easy to find dentists in Charlotte and other large cities.
Not every general dentist in North Carolina’s larger urban areas offers the same set of services. While some distinctions are obvious – such as a pediatric dentist who has decided to focus only on dental care for children, others are not so obvious.
Other options that warrant investigation and consideration in choosing a dentist include the provision of comprehensive dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, sedation dentistry, and implant dentistry. Some general dentists offer these “additional” services while others do not. Your decision should be based on your needs, or the needs of all your family members.
Sedation dentistry is growing in popularity in the state, and in mid-2009, the NC Dental Board (the dental licensing body in the state) enacted a new accreditation system for providing sedation dental care to ensure the safety of patients throughout the state. Sedation dentistry not only helps those who don’t seek needed dental treatment because of anxiety, but also provides for more expedient (but high-quality) results for some cosmetic dentistry procedures.
Be sure to check the credentials of prospective dentists once you’ve begun to narrow the field. You can use a search engine to help you ascertain the standing of the dental school where the dentist obtained his or her DDS. There are no “official” rankings for dental schools in the U.S. However, North Carolina’s own UNC-CH dentistry school is a top-ranked school on most informal lists. If you’re selecting a dentist for the broader range of services the dentist provides, also ask about additional training and experience that dentist has in providing those services. Experience matters!
Asking questions about what technology or new types of procedures the practice offers can also be revealing. Some dentists are simply more committed to staying on top of advances that offer added benefits for patients.