How to Choose a Great Dentist: Look for Credentials and Awards

Let’s get one thing out on the table: everyone wants a really, really good dentist. However, I know that dental credentials can be confusing. Here are some tips for evaluating your dentist’s credentials.

  • Every dentist has either a DDS or a DMD degree. If you would like to know about a dentist’s degree and license status, do a Google search for your state dental board (for example, “Missouri Dental Board”). You are also entitled to call your state board to ask if the dentist has a current license in good standing and whether the dentist’s license has ever been disciplined by the dental board due to a patient complaint.


  • Look for a mention of any CODA-approved residencies. Approximately 20% of dentists receive advanced training beyond dental school in post-graduate residency programs approved by the Council on Dental Accreditation (CODA).


  • Look for membership in dental organizations that require advance training or peer nomination by other dentists. For example, the American Equilibration Society requires a minimum level of post-graduate training in treating bite and jaw problems as well as nomination by a peer dentist, and less than 1% of dentists are invited to join. As another example, to be a member of the American College of Dentists or the International College of Dentists, a dentist must be nominated by other dentists based on a history of ethical practice, leadership, and service in the profession. Less than 2% of dentists are invited to join these organizations.


  •  Awards: Any awards given by state or national dental associations, or by a dental school, indicate a high level of respect for and achievement by that dentist.


If you have more questions about selecting a great provider, whether in the Kansas City area or elsewhere, I would be honored to assist you personally. I know many, many dentists around the world because of my membership and leadership in several dental organizations, and I would be happy to make a personal referral.

Please don’t hesitate to call me at (816) 587-6444 or email me at

4 replies
  1. Derek Dewitt
    Derek Dewitt says:

    My wife and I are looking for a new dentist in the area since moving, but we haven’t found anyone yet. I like that you suggest looking for a dental office that has awards or are members of things like the American College of Dentists. This would prove to me that they are qualified and can give me the best treatment, so I’ll keep an eye out for plaques and awards. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Taylor Bishop
    Taylor Bishop says:

    Thanks for this advice for finding a good dentist. I like that you mentioned you should see if they have training beyond dental school, like a program approved by the CODA. I wonder if you can also learn more about this training the dentist went through and what skills they developed because of it.

  3. Jocelyn McDonald
    Jocelyn McDonald says:

    My husband and I just moved into a new area, and we’re now on the lookout for a good dentist to start visiting. Your article had some great tips for choosing a dentist, and I liked how you said to keep an eye out for any CODA-approved residencies. Since only about 20% of dentists receive this advanced training, they’re probably the best of the best, and we’ll keep this in mind when looking for our new dentist.

  4. Jocelyn McDonald
    Jocelyn McDonald says:

    My family and I just moved to a new area, and we’re looking for a dentist we can start visiting. You had some great tips for choosing someone like this, and I liked how you said to look for membership in organizations that require advance training or peer nomination. Only about 1-2% of dentists join these organizations, so you know they are the best of the best, and we’ll keep this in mind when choosing the dentist right for us.


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