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Ask the Dentist: Questions You Should Ask or Talk to Your Dentist About

By HERWriter
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A good relationship with your dentist is essential to good oral health care. You should always feel comfortable with your dentist so you can arrive for each visit with a smile. Dental practices work very hard to ensure your safety and health. Feel free to ask questions and communicate any concerns you may have so your dentist, hygienist, or dental assistant can properly address them. Here are some key questions to ask your dentist about your dental and oral care.

Can I get a copy of my dental records?

Talk with your dentist about getting a copy of your dental records. Dentists covered by the HIPAA privacy rule are required to provide patients with a copy of their records and state law may also apply.
The ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct states: "A dentist has the ethical obligation on request of either the patient or the patient's new dentist to furnish, either gratuitously or for nominal cost, such dental records or copies or summaries of them, including dental X-rays or copies of them, as will be beneficial for the future treatment of that patient. This obligation exists whether or not the patient's account is paid in full."

What happens if I miss a dental appointment?

Dental offices vary on their policies of missed appointments. Ask your dentist about his or her policy. Many dentists ask that you call to cancel an appointment at least 24 hours in advance. This will allow time for office staff to find someone else for your scheduled appointment. Those who don't call to cancel may be charged all or a portion of an office visit.

When should you cancel an appointment if you feel ill? If you feel up to the visit, keep it — unless you've got a fever, strep throat, can't breathe well or are too uncomfortable to sit in the chair. Some dentists also request patients to cancel if they have an active herpes virus or a cold sore around the mouth. If in doubt, ask your dentist if the visit should be rescheduled.

Do you sterilize all your instruments, including dental drills between patients?

Add a Comment6 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Well My dentist cleaned out my team the other day and she said If I don't re evaluate my oral habits, I'll lose all my teeth by 40, so, I started flossing and I find that I bleed abit. But its been about 2 or 3 weeks now, and I was wondering when could I see improvements or changes?


December 12, 2010 - 5:09am
(reply to Anonymous)

It really depends on what improvements/changes were recommended, what the treatment outcome and goals are...and what you have been diagnosed with (or any oral conditions you have).

Can you tell us:
- What specifically did your doctor say was wrong with your teeth and gums?
- What were your previous oral habits?
- Why did your doctor say you would lose your teeth by age 40; exactly what was diagnosed as your condition?
- What improvements or goals did your doctor expect from flossing (and no other treatments, correct)?

December 14, 2010 - 10:36am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Alison Beaver)


I'm not exactly quite sure,
but last time I checked she said I had gingivitis,
and that my gums were bleeding quite abit.

December 14, 2010 - 3:36pm
(reply to Anonymous)

Here is more information about gingivitis and gum disease that may help answer your questions:

- Gingivitis Definition

- The Basics of Gum Disease

December 23, 2010 - 9:37am

am 16 am have gaps all aaround me fornt teeth i feels quite ashamed wehen am i with my friends as they all hae perfect teeth ... wen i was 9 or 10 i had braces they kept fallng off now my dentist tells me i carnt get them fixed because i have has to mutch tretment on them i need to find a way to fill them any helpp !!!?

January 3, 2010 - 8:07pm
(reply to kloecat)


I'm not understanding how you can not have your teeth fixed because you had too much treatment? Can you ask for more explanation of what damage has been done to your teeth?

You have a few options:
1. Ask for a copy of your dental medical records
2. If you are on your parents' or guardian's health insurance, check with them, but you may want to get a second opinion from another doctor.

I am more concerned with your teeth being so damaged from previous treatments that you can not have the option of fixing them, and would want to know what the health status of your teeth are. Then, secondary (although it is your primary concern at this point) are the gaps in your teeth. I feel this is secondary only because of the way you describe this problem as an issue because you "feel ashamed when you are with your friends who all have perfect teeth". I'm sure this is an exaggeration, even if it feels like the truth, and being a responsible consumer of health care, and seeking other doctors, means that you need to put your health as priority...not when compared to your "perfect" friends...but because it is your body, and your teeth!

January 3, 2010 - 9:08pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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