I wrote previously about trying out a new dentist, since my childhood dentist was something like 40 minutes away now that I'm farther east into the city. It turned out to be a very bad experience -- partly because he told me I had to have my wisdom teeth out, and partly because he didn't answer my questions and didn't have a nice chair-side manner. In addition to needing my wisdom teeth out, he told me I had cavities, and would need to go back to have them filled.
I wasn't in any hurry to go back, but when I started having discomfort in my remaining lower molars, I called my childhood dentist to make an appointment. She wasn't available but the receptionist suggested another DDS (Dr. Matthews) in the same office, whom I ended up seeing, and it was an entirely different (and very much improved!) experience. For starters, he spent at least half of his time with me explaining how various dental things work. He didn't talk down to me, but didn't talk over my head either. He told me that I did not have any cavities, and explained how the previous dentist might've made that mistake. He told me that my discomfort was actually due to me grinding my teeth at night -- I wasn't aware of it, but he said he could clearly see the wear on my teeth. He also said that the cleaning I had had 3 months prior was done very poorly, and that I really should have it done again that day (which I did).
While I was happy to end up continuing my no-cavities streak, the extra cleaning was out of pocket, since I had had the insufficient one only a few months before. It's hard to put a price (either in dollars or time & mileage) in having a doctor that you trust and respect, so I will definitely be willing to make the longish drive in the future, rather than try and shop around.