How to Check Dentist Credentials

Anyone in need of finding a new dental care provider should be concerned about the credentials and skills of the doctor under consideration. An essential step in choosing a dentist you can have faith in involves checking credentials before setting a first appointment. This can be done by using the Internet and making a few phone calls.

Preparation

Before checking a dentist's credentials, one must know what the dentist is claiming as his credentials. To begin, visit the dentist's website. Look for a biography or "about" page to find the dentist's credentials, including the name of his dental college and year of graduation. If this information is not posted on the website, look for the practice's contact phone number. Call the dentist's office and request this information. Note the information so you don't forget.

Verify Graduation

Although most dentists are honest about their college degrees, dishonest dentists working without the proper credentials bank on most patients never checking their credentials. For this reason, it can be a wise choice to verify the dentist's educational credentials. To do so, contact the dental school's registrar and verify that the dentist completed a course of study. Many colleges will cooperate with these requests. If the college you contact will not provide this information, verify your dentist's credentials at the National Student Clearinghouse website for a small fee.

Research the School

A valid degree from a college is not enough to confirm a dentist's credentials. Many colleges are merely "diploma mills" or "degree mills," selling degrees without providing an education to the recipients. It's estimated that 30,000 fake post-graduate degrees are bought each year from these institutions. Some other colleges do provide an academic program, but have not gone through the rigorous requirements necessary to prove themselves as quality educational institutions. For these reasons, it's necessary to confirm that the school is real and accredited. Use the Internet to make sure that the school has been legitimately accredited by visiting the U.S. Department of Education's accreditation website, which lists all accredited academic institutions in the United States.

Licensure

In the U.S., a dentist must be licensed to practice. Although each state's licensure requirements are different, a dentist must obtain a license to legally practice in this country. To ensure that your dentist has a valid license, contact the organization that licenses dentists in your state. Many of these organizations will display this information on their websites. Others will verify a dentist's license by phone or mail.

References

About the Author

Heather Dewar is a writer and homeschooling mother. She has been writing professionally since 2007, specializing in wellness, parenting, child development and education topics. She has worked professionally in the fields of early childhood education and massage therapy. Dewar is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in special education.