Questions to Ask Your Dentist

It’s important to be prepared to help ensure that you select the right dentist for you and your family, and that you make the most of your dental visit. Here are some helpful questions to consider when selecting a dentist, and then before and during your dental appointment.

Selecting a Dentist

You may wish to consider several dentists before choosing the dentist that’s right for you. When calling or visiting dentists, consider the following questions:

  • How much does the dentist charge for dental checkups, X-rays, cavity fillings and other procedures?
  • If you have a health insurance plan, does the dentist participate in it?
  • When and how are you expected to pay? Make sure you understand the fees, method and schedule of payment before you agree to any treatment.
  • What types of dental procedures can the dentist perform? Are dental specialists, like orthodontists and periodontists, available at the dentist’s office? If not, will the dentist refer out to the appropriate dental specialists?
  • Are special arrangements made for handling emergencies outside of office hours? Most dentists make arrangements with a colleague or emergency referral service if they are unable to tend to emergencies.
  • What are their office hours and is the appointment schedule convenient for you?
  • What is the office location—is it conveniently located for you? Can you get there using public transportation if you need to?

Download questions to ask when selecting a dentist. (PDF)

Preparing for the Dental Visit for You or Your Child

Make a list of any pain or issues you are experiencing, or questions you would like to ask the dentist during your appointment. You can start with this list below, or make up your own. The important thing is to tell your dentist about any concerns or issues you have, even if they are minor, so that they can treat them now and help prevent bigger problems later on.

  • Do you have sensitivity or pain in your teeth? How bad is it?
  • Do you have pain or bleeding in your gums, tongue or jaw? How bad is it?
  • Do you have any unusual spots or sores in your mouth?
  • Do you have dry mouth or a lack of saliva?
  • Do you have an unpleasant taste or odor in your mouth?
  • Are you taking any prescription or over-the-counter medications? Make a list of those to take to the dentist.
  • Do you have any allergies?
  • Do you have trouble breathing when you sleep?
  • Do you grind your teeth when you sleep?

Download questions to consider when preparing to visit the dentist. (PDF)

Questions to Ask During Your Dental Visit

In addition to discussing with your dentist any pain or issues you are having in your mouth, here are some general questions you could ask to help improve your overall dental health.

  • Does my mouth look healthy?
  • What can I do to improve the health of my teeth and gums?
  • Is there anything I should tell my family doctor about?
  • What foods can I eat to improve my dental health?
  • Which treatments are absolutely necessary? Which are optional? Which are cosmetic? Which procedures are urgently needed, and which ones are less urgent?

Download questions to ask during your dental visit. (PDF)

Questions to Ask the Dentist About Your Child’s Teeth

The Partnership for Healthy Mouths, Healthy Lives recommends taking your child to the dentist by the time they turn one. Then once you schedule a regular routine, here are some questions to ask the dentist about your child’s dental health.

  • How can I ensure that my child’s teeth are clean?
  • How can I prevent baby bottle tooth decay?
  • Do you have any advice on how to get my child to brush their teeth?
  • What foods will improve my child’s dental health?
  • Should my child get sealants to prevent cavities?
  • How are the teeth and jaws developing and, if there are any problems, when will you refer my child to an orthodontist?

Download questions to ask the dentist about your child's teeth. (PDF)