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

1 reply
  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!


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