While convenience and cost may be two of the factors you consider when choosing a periodontist, they should never be the primary reasons. Your first concerns should be their educational history, the quality of the care they provide and their treatment philosophy. Finding this information may require a bit of research on your part and a willingness to be direct and ask the periodontist you are considering some probing questions.
All practicing periodontists must have completed their formal education at an accredited college or university and received formal training for at least three years in a residency program before they can practice on their own. Their education does not stop there. The American Dental Association (ADA) also requires that they continue their education and get re-certified every 6 years.
Ask the following questions to get the specifics about a periodontist's education.
- Where did you attend college/medical school?
- Where did you complete your residency?
- Did you complete your residency in three years? If it took longer than that, ask why.
- When was the last time you were re-certified?
A solid education is a good start, but you also want a periodontist that is good at their job. While having lots of experience does not necessarily mean that they are experts, it does give you a sense of their ability. Ask them a few questions about their history.
- How long have you been in practice?
- How many times have you done this specific procedure?
Treatment Philosophy Questions
Like any professional, periodontists are individuals with differing opinions about the the types treatments, medications and equipment they use. In order to find out if their plans for your treatment matches yours, you need to ask a few more questions.
- What are they options for treating this specific dental issue?
- Which of these options would you select in this case and why?
- Are you using the most up to date technology and equipment to correctly diagnose and treat your patients?
- What pain medications do you prescribe during of after procedures to keep your patient's comfortable?
Keep in mind that asking a periodontist these questions will not do you much good is you do not already know the answers you want to hear. The best way to protect yourself and ensure high quality periodontal care is to be an informed patient. Take the time to research both the specific problem you are seeking treatment for and the most commonly used treatment plans to rectify that problem before you begin the interview process.