If you are looking for a great general dentist or a dental specialist who best meets your needs, you can’t rely on magazine ads, coupons, or lists of participating dentists from your insurance company. You should protect your investment and time and do your research. Word of mouth is still great, so do ask people you trust for recommendations. But online reviews offer a much more powerful way to find qualified and skilled dentists who truly provide exceptional care. They are written by actual patients who give a rating, usually from one to five stars, based on their experiences. The top sites for reviews on dentists are Google, Yelp, Dr.Oogle, and City Search.
Here are what you should look for when looking at online reviews:
- Number of reviews- A dentist with one review (whether good or bad) may not be very meaningful. Whereas a dentist with twenty reviews will offer much more validity to the overall rating.
- Content of reviews- Don’t just rely on the average star ratings; Read the reviews and learn what people have experienced. You will find some of the shared information more relevant than others and help you make better choices. For example, if you are looking for dentist who is warm and has great bedside manners, you can look for people’s experiences on those features.
- Star ratings- The star ratings are usually from one (least recommended) to five (most recommended). Look for dentists with many reviews with ratings of four to five. Bad reviews (one to two stars) should be looked at within their context. A dentist with one bad review out of two postings may be more concerning that a dentist with one bad review out of twenty postings.
- Reviews with user name- I think sites who have the user names posted along with their reviews are more credible than ones without where one can not be certain about the origin of the review. Sites do monitor and track reviews and their sources in order to prevent dentists and own staff posting positive reviews for themselves as well as bad reviews posted possibly by competition or others who for whatever reason want to harm the practice. Obviously, reviews fraud can compromise a sites credibility, so they monitor them closely to make sure reviews are real and non-biased.
- Cross check reviews on different sites- Check if the reviews on a given dentist are consistent between different sites. A good dentist should have good ratings equally on all sites. Some dentists who consistently receive poor reviews may hire companies like reputation.com to fix Google results, hide unwanted links, and boost online visibility. Through this process, they can boost the positive reviews higher on search results and essentially hide the poor ones way down on the list. Obviously, this ‘manufactured’ search result is misleading as they do not show all the reviews. So make sure you read all of the reviews and cross check them in other sites. Highly rated dentists have consistently good reviews on all sites.