This question is not as easy to answer as it may seem. Today this depends on many factors. If you live in a rural setting the choice may be somewhat limited. In urban settings there are numerous choices.
Many years ago, the usual dental office had a dentist, maybe a hygienist, an assistant and front office staff. They were family oriented spending most of their time restoring cavities and keeping gum disease under control.
Today the spectrum ranges from single providers to multiple dentists with auxiliary staff. Even the single dentist office may have restricted their treatments offered to such areas as cosmetics, dental sleep disorders and TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorders. Some offer these as “mini-specialties” within the general practice. The range of choice in available options is starts from the walk-in clinic at one end to the very comprehensive “Mayo or Cleveland” Clinic type of practice at the other end.
So the type of office you look for will depend on your needs. Your needs will vary with your health, age and stage of life. Young families will look for different features compared to middle aged empty – nesters. Golden agers have very unique challenges and needs.
As in all phases of life, advancing milestones require different care. Children need preventive care; hopefully only the occasional filling and supervision of their growth and development (think orthodontist and braces).
The empty –nester have their preventive care. Today this is especially important with the number of general health disorders being related to the chronic inflammation of gum disease. Also, many will have grown up before fluoride and regular care, so their existing dentistry has to be maintained, repaired and occasionally replaced.
Golden agers need more preventive care as age inevitably impacts their overall health and their oral cavity. Vision loss and diminishing manual dexterity, along with possible cognitive impairment make self –care more challenging. Yet, the health of the mouth and body are inseparably linked. Loss of health in one impacts the other.
The service milieu may also vary today. You can find spa like practices with highly individualized care to the corporate dental clinic with greater variability in care providers. Cars are a great metaphor for this: from the lower end Yugos to the higher end Lexus. Each has a place and meets the needs of the folks that call them their dental home.
Your dental home should reflect your needs and desires. To quote the Cheers theme song,
” Be glad there’s one place in the world
Where Everybody Knows Your Name
And they’re always glad you came…”