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What To Expect at the Dentist Office When You Move to Southwest Florida 

In 2003, Dr. Pugh and I sold her practice, sold our home, and moved to southwest Florida. The entire time we’ve lived here, there have always been people relocating here from out of state. We are a destination not just for tourists and snowbirds, but for people who want to escape the gray skies and wintry weather that so often come with living up north. 

Nothing Is the Same as Back Home 

The truth is, when you move to southwest Florida, everything is going to be a little different. While this has nothing to do with dentistry per se, it is worth noting. Buying tires in southwest Florida is a little different than it was in central Kentucky. So is registration at the DMV and the way people drive. If you haven’t moved here yet but are planning to, just set your expectation that a lot of things are different, and that is okay! 

You Will Need an Exam before You Can Get a Cleaning 

In Florida, our laws require us to do an exam before we can clean your teeth, and it has to happen at least every 13 months for you to continue getting your teeth cleaned: 

  1. A dentist licensed under this chapter or a physician licensed under chapter 458 or chapter 459 must give medical clearance before a dental hygienist removes calculus deposits, accretions, and stains from exposed surfaces of the teeth or from tooth surfaces within the gingival sulcus. 
  1. A dentist shall conduct a dental examination on a patient within 13 months after a dental hygienist removes the patient’s calculus deposits, accretions, and stains from exposed surfaces of the teeth or from tooth surfaces within the gingival sulcus. Additional oral hygiene services may not be performed under this paragraph without a clinical examination by a dentist who is licensed under this chapter.” 

This is a very good law for the patient! It may seem inconvenient when you first move here, compared to back home, where many of you could schedule cleanings for your first visit, but it’s actually written this way to protect you as the patient and consumer. One of the most prevalent forms of malpractice in dentistry is undiagnosed and untreated periodontal disease. 

Here in Florida, we take that seriously for the benefit of our patients. It’s important that we conduct a full dental examination, including taking a set of x-rays so that we can see what is going on that the naked eye can’t, and doing dental probings to check for periodontal disease. 

In our practice, like most, your first visit is a comprehensive exam. 

There Is a Lot of Corporate Dentistry Here 

While corporate dentistry is not new to southwest Florida, in the last few years it has exploded here. Drive down any main road, and you’ll see as many dental practices as you do Walgreens locations! Your mailbox will be loaded with postcards from corporate dental practices, but most of these offices look like private practices. 

The important things to know are what corporate dentistry is, how it works, and whether the office you’re scheduling with is a corporate office. This post explains this more.    

Dental Practices Might Not Be In-Network with Your Dental Insurance 

On the one hand, there are a lot of corporate dental practices in southwest Florida, and on the other hand, there are a lot of “out of network” practices here. Most people would use the terminology “they don’t take my insurance.” 

What is important to know about these practices is the same as for corporate practices: what an out-of-network practice is and whether the office you’re scheduling with is in or out of network. 

Our practice is out of network, but we do file claims for our patients and also offer a membership plan to help patients without dental insurance to save money. We do this because we cannot deliver the same quality of dentistry and service while in network. We know because we’ve tried! 

In Summary 

Relocating to southwest Florida is exciting! Every day you can see the sun, feel the warmth, and see palm trees in your yard, and you can do whatever you like outdoors on most days! But don’t make the mistake of thinking everything here works like back home. Set your expectations with the understanding that finding a dentist may be different so you won’t get frustrated. 

Be grateful that our laws are written in a way that better protects you, the patient. Schedule a new patient exam and don’t expect to get your teeth cleaned on that first visit. If you are able to do this, consider it a nice surprise. 

And finally, understand the different types of dental practices just like you understand the difference between Golden Corral, Outback and Capitol Grille. Then choose the dental practice that suits you. You would never go to Golden Corral and then get mad at them for not being Capitol Grille, and vice versa. It’s the same with dentistry. 

To learn more about our practice, you can visit our website. Be sure to check out our Patient Promise and our dentist and staff bios. Welcome to southwest Florida! We’re here for you, neighbor!