Share

Doctor-Patient Relationship

The dental profession holds a special position of trust in the community and the best doctor-patient relationships are built on that trust. When you put your trust in an ADA dentist you’re choosing a dentist who has agreed to follow the ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct and made a professional promise to put your health and well-being first.

What should I look for when choosing a dentist?
You may want to call or visit more than one dentist before making your decision. Dental care is a very personalized service that requires a good relationship between the dentist and the patient. During your first visit, you should be able to determine if this is the right dentist for you.

Consider the following:
  • Is the appointment schedule convenient for you? 
  • Is the office easy to get to from your home or job? 
  • Does the office appear to be clean, neat and orderly?
  • Was your medical and dental history recorded and placed in a permanent file?
  • Does the dentist explain techniques that will help you prevent dental health problems? 
  • Is dental health instruction provided?
  • Are special arrangements made for handling emergencies outside of office hours? (Most dentists make arrangements with a colleague or emergency referral service if they are unable to tend to emergencies.) 
  • Is information provided about fees and payment plans before treatment is scheduled? 
  • Is your dentist a member of the ADA? All ADA member dentists voluntarily agree to abide by the high ethical standards reflected in the member code of conduct. You and your dentist are partners in maintaining your oral health. Take time to ask questions and take notes if that will help you remember your dentist's advice.
Looking for a dentist? The American Dental Association offers these suggestions in finding a dentist:
  • Visit ADA Find-a-Dentist to search dentists in your area. 
  • Ask family, friends, neighbors or co-workers for recommendations. 
  • Ask your family physician or local pharmacist.
  • If you're moving, your current dentist may be able to make a recommendation.
  • Call or write your state dental society.
Even in the best dentist-patient relationship, a problem may occur. If it does, the first step is to discuss any concerns you have with your dentist. Many times this will help clear up the matter. If you wish further assistance, contact your state dental association. Dental societies have established a dispute resolution system called peer review to help resolve the occasional disagreement about dental treatment. Peer review provides an impartial and easily accessible means for resolving misunderstandings regarding the appropriateness or quality of care and, in certain instances, about the fees charged for dental treatment. A peer review committee will attempt to mediate the problem. They may meet to discuss the case and may examine clinical records, talk to the dentist and patient and, when indicated, arrange for a clinical examination.