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?