Risky Business

Strategies for Obtaining a Second Opinion

The dental office is always a nerve racking place. We go because we want to stay healthy and keep our teeth. It is less nerve racking when you have a good relationship with your doctor and office staff. But what do you do if that relationship and history isn’t there? Do you go forward with proposed treatment on good faith? Are your nerves and gut telling you otherwise?

If communicating with the dentist has not settled your concerns, here are some suggestions for obtaining a second opinion. Put those thoughts of anxiety to rest.

    • First off be open with the dental practitioner, let them know you are going to obtain a second opinion. This is your prerogative as a patient, and the office will respect your concerns. You may end up coming back.
    • If this is your first time or the fifth time at the office, if recent x-rays have been taken, request a copy to take with you. A copy of your treatment plan is also helpful. A state privacy law requires that you sign for the release of your x-rays and dental records.
    • If you are uncomfortable asking for a copy of your x-rays or you have to leave in a hurry, take a business card so that the next office may do the requesting for you.
    • Ask your friends and family if they have a dentist they recommend. Personal referrals are always great, relationships have already been established.
    • If you don’t have a dentist, but have a past or current relationship with an orthodontist, periodontist, endodontist, or other dental specialty, ask them for a referral. They see patients from all over the community and can give you a couple of names.
    • Contacting your local dental society is another option. You will not be referred to any dentist who has had legal action taken against them.
    • If there is a dental school in your area, arrange to become a patient of the school clinic. This avenue is timely, but very thorough

The American Dental Association Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct state, “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.”

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