Have you ever found yourself wishing, “if only I could switch dentists?” Or maybe you started out with one dentist but had a gut feeling after the first visit that you didn’t want to go back. If so, you’re not alone. Knowing what to do and how to change dentists isn’t as hard as you might expect it to be.
Reasons to Switch Dentists
There are several different reasons why someone might need to know how to change dentists.
Here are just a few:
Job or Insurance Change: Different employers offer different benefits. Or sometimes they require moving. If your health coverage changes, make sure you find a dentist who accepts that plan and can process the claims for you.
Moving Out of Town: When you move, you’ll usually have to change dentists. But believe it or not, some people love their dentist so much that they travel out of town to see their old oral health providers.
Personality of the Dentist, Office Atmosphere: Not getting warm fuzzies from your current dental office? Sometimes it’s just not a good fit. Not because they aren’t a great dentist, but because of personalities, communication styles, or overall attitudes among the staff. If it’s not right for you, that’s completely fine! Maybe you want more of a family office atmosphere where everyone can see the same dentist, but it’s more of a premier office focusing on cosmetic dentistry.
Services Available: Not all dentists offer the same treatments. Perhaps you need a certain type of dental implant, a root canal, or your teen needs their wisdom teeth removed. Some offices might have more advanced technology or sedation services on hand, allowing for a more efficient procedure. Or the dentist prefers to refer out certain treatments because of the detailed process required. You might even disagree on the treatment recommended.
Is it Hard to Switch Dentists?
Not at all. It’s as easy as making a phone call. In fact, many of the patients we see at Family Dentist Bells Corners used to go to other dental offices in the area or moved here and needed a new dental provider. We were able to assist them in switching everything over to our office so that we could continue their care.
What is the Process of Switching Dentists?
Simply call the new dentist’s office and make an appointment! You can also have a release signed that allows your new dentist to request your current records from any previous dental offices. Your current dentist might need you to come in and fill out a form before they’re able to confidentially send those records off elsewhere.
Double-check with your insurance provider to make sure they know you’ve changed dentists. Sometimes it’s necessary to have the dental office on file with your insurer, to prevent any confusion.
Do You Have to Tell Your Dentist You’re Switching?
The short answer is, “it depends.” It can help to tell the dentist (or at least their office) that you’re switching, simply because it allows them to find weaknesses in their system and work on changing those processes. Such as a rude staff member or billing practices that you just aren’t happy with. Or they might even want to consider changing their office hours to better accommodate people’s schedules.
You’ll want to tell your current dentist that you’re switching if you plan on having your dental records sent over to the new office. Otherwise, the new dentist won’t have an existing baseline to assess your oral health against.
Who Owns Dental Records?
Legally, dental records belong to the dental patient. However, you will sometimes see offices charge a fee to have files copied, processed, or sent to other locations. This used to be quite common when traditional dental X-rays had to be manually duplicated. Especially if the patient owed a balance on their account because of unpaid dental bills.
Typically, it is not a problem to have existing dental records transferred over to a new dentist. Especially if you’re moving or need a specialized service. In most cases, dentists offer this service as a courtesy or allow you to come to pick them up and bring them with you.
Can I Switch Dentists in the Middle of a Procedure?
This one isn’t impossible, but it can be a toughie. Especially depending on the type of procedure you’re having completed. For example, something like wearing braces or being halfway through a dental implant process could be especially challenging to coordinate when switching between dental providers. But it isn’t impossible.
The first thing to do is to schedule a consultation with your new dentist and get their opinion on the circumstances. If you want, get a second or third opinion, too. Your new dentist might already have some guidance to offer from past experience, or even a working relationship with the previous dentist’s office. Rest assured, your confidentiality is also preserved. If you don’t want the old dentist to know you’re seeing someone else for an opinion, that’s completely fine.
Some procedures can be switched halfway through, but only if specific steps are taken. The new dentist will be your best source of information. If switching during the treatment is not possible, they will tell you.
Contracts, treatment plans, and money can all come into play. If you’ve put a down payment on a dental procedure and signed a treatment plan, your first dentist may already be financially invested in lab fees and other equipment to provide that service to you. Not paying the remainder of the fees could be a problem. But if the treatment is stopped mid-way and there are no balances currently do, that might be an ample opportunity to switch dentists.
Get a Second Opinion
Family Dentist Bells Corners offers no-obligation evaluations for patients looking for a second opinion. If you’re thinking about switching dentists to find someone who is a better fit, we encourage you to call. Dr. Ryan Kirschner is accepting new patients and referrals and is always happy to discuss what’s possible for your smile.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment.