What to Know About Your Right to Your Dental Records

Dental records chart

Like any other medical provider, your dentist is required to keep a record of the dental care that you’ve received. When patients move to a location that requires them to get a new provider, it may not occur to them to have their dental records forwarded to their new practitioner. Just like any medical record, it’s important that you understand your rights and responsibilities as it pertains to your dental health records and what may be required to get them. It can also be beneficial to know what information you have a right to request.

What Should Be Contained In Your Dental Records

Every time you see your dental provider or a member of their staff, a notation should be made about what took place during that visit. This can include information about your dental cleaning, what was found during any exams, your dental x-rays, and any procedures that may have been performed. While these may seem obvious, there are other parts of your dental care that can be included in your records. These can include:

  • Prescribed Medications – If you’ve been given a prescription for medication, a record of it will be able to be found in your dental file. This should include the date the prescription was given, the medication prescribed, the dosage, and the instructions for taking it.
  • Restoration Information – If you’ve received a crown or other dental restoration, there is additional information that should be available. This includes where your restoration was manufactured, the materials that it contains, and who actually made it.
  • Medications Given In Office – If you’ve had in-office procedures with your current dentist and have been given treatments or medications, such as anesthesia, it will be noted in your records.

This information is all available to you by request as part of the HIPAA act. Your provider does not have the right to ask why you want to receive this information and cannot put delays or barriers on getting them that is unreasonable. For instance, they may require you to provide identification, but they cannot require you to physically visit the office to get them. They also cannot require that your dental records be mailed, as this could result in an unacceptable delay in receiving them. Be aware that knowing the reason for your request is not a valid reason to deny you access, either.

Have You Seen Your Dental File?

You can also request to get information from your dental records at any time during a visit. While it may be more convenient for everyone for you to ask for your records ahead of time, your dentist is not allowed to require you to call ahead of time. If you want to know what specific steps you need to take to get your records from your current dentist, call their office for more information. Be aware that it is within the rights of your dental office to require a reasonable fee for producing your dental records, but there is a limit to how much this can be.