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Need a dentist? Let us point the way 
Seeing a dentist twice a year is the best way to ensure good oral health, but many people put off these important health care visits. Many people relocate at least once in their lives, and finding a dentist in a new city or town can be a daunting task.

To make it easier to find a dentist, the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) offers consumers a toll-free service that can point them in the direction of an Academy member general dentist. Share this fact sheet with friends or family members in search of a dentist and help them get the continuing oral health care they need.

What is 1-877-2X-A-YEAR?
 The Academy's toll-free service, 1-877-2X-A-YEAR (1-877-292-9327), is a free service for the public to find local general dentists who also are members of the AGD. Membership in the AGD marks your dentist as a professional committed to excellent patient care through lifelong learning. Calling this number will put you in touch with an operator who will provide the names, addresses, and phone numbers of three local Academy member general dentists. Just provide your ZIP code, city or region, and we'll do the rest.

The service, now in its second year, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week from anywhere in the United States and Canada. Since its inception, the service has helped more than 7,000 consumers connect with 16,000 qualified Academy dentists.

Why should I see a general dentist?
General dentists are the primary dental care providers for patients of all ages. Besides providing preventative services, your general dentist is responsible for the diagnosis, treatment, management, and overall coordination of your oral health needs. If you need the services of a specialist, such as an oral surgeon or endodontist, your general dentist can provide appropriate referrals and maintain your continuity of care.

Regular visits to your general dentist are key to maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Tooth decay and gum disease are the biggest risks for adults who don't receive regular dental care. And the U.S. Surgeon General's 2000 report, "Oral Health in America," states that there may be links between gum disease and health problems such as diabetes and low birth weight.

Regular checkups for children, starting at age 1, will safeguard them against problems such as baby bottle tooth decay, teething irritations, gum disease, and prolonged thumbsucking and help prevent cavities throughout their early years.

Building a relationship with a general dentist who sees you regularly and knows your history allows you to maintain your oral health and catch small problems before they become big ones. 

I am afraid to go to the dentist, but I know I should. What can I do?
Talk to the dentist about your fears. By developing a relationship with a dentist, you are also involving yourself in the treatment plan. Dentists can discuss options that will help you relax and feel more comfortable during your visit .

What should I tell my dentist?
If you are a first-time patient, you will be asked to fill out a medical/dental history form. Tell him or her if you have experienced any changes in your medical condition. If you have started or stopped smoking, become pregnant, or are on medication-  including herbal remedies- your dentist needs to know.

Who sponsors this toll-free consumer service?
The Academy of General Dentistry sponsors 1-8772X-A-YEAR (1-877-2929327). The Academy is a nonprofit organization dedicated solely to general dentists. Committed to providing quality care and patient education to the public, Academy members are required to take 75 hours of continuing dental education every three years. The Academy's Web site, www.agd.org, gives consumers the opportunity to find answers to their general dental questions via the Internet

ŠJay S. Orlikoff, DDS, 2003

Last Update February 16, 2006