'Top Dentists' By Whose Standards?

  • “Top Dentists”
  • “Internationally Recognized Dentist”
  • “Best Dentist”
  • “World Renowned Dentist”

These are just a few common descriptions sited in various media for dentists marketing their practices. But one has to question how are they generated? Are they credible? Why are they the top dentists? Who determined this? and what were the criteria for inclusion in such lists or making such claims? Lets take a closer look at how such lists are generated.

The first strategy is simply paid advertising. Dentists can pay to be included in ‘top dentist’ lists often sponsored by advertising companies or magazines. Just look for the ‘Advertisement’ label on top of the page and you’ll recognize them. Dentists can also place regular ads and make claims as ‘premier dentist’, ‘top dentist’ or others. This is obviously without merit and even if the dentist is very good, self appointment as a top dentist should be looked at with scrutiny.

The second strategy is peer reviewed lists. Many magazines publish an annual ‘Top Dentists’ edition. They send surveys to a number of randomly chosen dentists. Dentists see one another’s work, so they ask them to name the general dentists and specialists to whom they’d send a member of their family. The practitioners who receive the most recommendations from the completed surveys are then listed as ‘Top Dentists.’ While such lists are more credible and many great dentists are included, frequent advertisers seem to get more recognition than others by having included photos, quotes, or other highlighted features.

So how can patients get beyond misleading advertising messages and find the best dentist for them? Here are some recommendations:

  • Read patient reviews- Many patients write about their experiences on Google, Yelp, Dr. Oogle, or city search. Check out the reviews and rating and what they say about the dentist and overall experience.
  • Ask the dental specialists- When looking for a general dentist or prosthodontist, call your local oral surgeon, endodontist, or orthodontist and ask them who they recommend as the best restorative dentist. Make sure to tell them what your needs are so they can match you better with the right dentist.
  • Ask several general dentists- When searching for a specialist such as an oral surgeon, endodontist, orthodontist, periodontist, or pedodontist, call five of your local dentists and ask who they recommend most. They have had direct experiences working with the specialists and can provide you with a great feedback.
  • Interview the dentist and ask about their education and qualifications- Ask about school and special trainings they have received. If they are a specialist, inquire about their completed residency program and board certification. If they are general dentists performing specialty procedures, ask about their qualifications and training and difference between their outcome and that of specialists’. Review photo albums of actual patients and their results. Finally, ask to speak to several existing patients and ask about their experiences.
  • Ask friends and family members for recommendations- There is nothing like word of mouth from people you know and trust. Ask about their results, experiences and recommendations.

You can combine all or several of the above strategies to give you a consensus on the best dentist for your needs.  Dental treatment can be both costly and long requiring both financial and time commitments. Look beyond marketing titles and promotions when choosing a dentist or specialist and get more engaged in your care. You will be happy you did.