Dental records 101

You’re encouraged to keep thorough records of your taxes, credit card statements, vaccinations and more. But what about your dental records? Could you put your hands on them in the next 10 minutes?

Even though your dental records are property of your dental office, you can obtain a copy of them and the wealth of information they provide. But it'll likely take more than 10 minutes.

What are dental records?

Also known as patient charts, dental records include:

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    Past diagnoses

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    Clinical notes

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    Dentist-patient communication

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    Treatment consent documents

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These records will also include the typical “admin” information such as your contact information, address and employment details. A typical health history form is also filled out at your dental office to document any specific health concerns or medications that would potentially influence your dental care.

How can you get your dental records?

Step 1: Request your records. We recommend you put the request in writing so both you and your provider have a record of the request, but you can also request in person.

Step 2: Obtain a copy of your records from your dental care provider. The original documents remain property of your dental office, and they may charge a small fee for preparing and mailing the records if you choose to go old school with hard copy records.

Electronic medical records (EMRs) are also available so information can be shared with you securely and seamlessly.

Why would you need access to your dental records?

When you change dental providers, you’ll want to make sure your new dentist has a full understanding of your dental history. You can do so by having your previous provider transfer your records, including all X-rays, to your new dentist or asking for direct access to your own records. If you are having a medical procedure, your physician may need to look through your dental information to account for any additional considerations before the procedure.

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