Good dental hygiene is important to your overall health, and one significant component to maintaining good dental hygiene is to visit a dentist once a year. Whenever you make an appointment to visit a new dentist, especially if you have not received a referral from a friend, another dentist or a medical professional, you should research your new dentist's qualifications to make sure that he has the proper education, license and experience in the field.

Ask the dentist or dentist's office manager for information about the dentist's education and training. You should ask where your dentist received his bachelor's degree and doctoral degree. Your dentist must have a doctoral degree to perform dentistry. Common doctoral degrees in dentistry are DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery), DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine) and DD (Doctor of Dentistry). Furthermore, the dentist must have attended a dental school that is accredited by the American Dental Association's Commission on Dental Accreditation in order for the dentist to ultimately secure a license. Do not hesitate to ask to see a copy of your dentist's diploma and license.

Ask for your dentist's credential number. This is an eight-digit number.

Verify your dentist's credential number by going the dentist credential website provided by Find a Dentist (see Resource 1). Once you have opened the website, input the dentist's credential number into the box provided and click "Search." The website will verify the dentist's training and license.


While it is always important to exercise due diligence when searching for a reputable dentist, don't be afraid to ask for a referral to a dentist from another trusted medical professional. If you need to find a new dentist, a paediatric dentist or even an orthodontist, asking for a referral from a doctor or medical professional that you trust might help in your search for a dentist, and it might also ease any fears you have about going to a dentist.