We put together this year's list of top dentists the same way you might find a good dentist: mostly by word of mouth. But we also polled a lot of people -- and relied on experts.
We first mailed surveys to more than 2,000 randomly chosen dentists. Dentists see one another's work, so we asked them to name the general dentists and specialists to whom they'd send a member of their family. The practitioners who received the most recommendations on the 580 completed surveys are listed here. Names marked with an asterisk (*) received the most votes.
Because a dentist isn't listed doesn't mean he or she isn't good. How do good dentists get left off? Some have small practices with limited referral networks, so they're less well known. Others are very good but are new or in out-of-the-way locations. Or they're not active in dental circles, meaning their peers may not know them. To fill in these gaps, we did more research and reporting, asking experts about good but overlooked dentists.
Although the dentists on this list come highly recommended, that doesn't mean a dentist will be right for you. While dentists can gauge a colleague's skills, they don't always know if a fellow dentist has a good chairside manner, hires a pleasant and efficient office staff, or charges fair prices. It's best to use this list as one tool; you might also ask coworkers, neighbors, and friends for the names of dentists they like.