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Access to my dental record information



Well-known member
Jul 8, 2021
I have a question that might need to go to a dentist in the United States. I would like to know what the dentist is required to record in my dental record and if they are required to tell me. I have been seeing a new dentist in my old dentist's office the last few months. My old dentist retired. I don't have as good of a rapport with the new dentist. I went with her anyway because I believed her technical skills to be very good.

I had two fillings on 4/18/23 - a glass ionomer and a composite. I have had a very bad taste in my mouth since. When I called the office after a week to report this, I was told that I was welcome to come in for a tongue scraper and some mouth rinse and that it couldn't have anything to do with the fillings or the appointment. My next appointment with her is in 8.5 weeks for more fillings. Her schedule fills up very fast and she books far out.

The taste issue has become an all day, every day thing at this point. I would like to know exactly what materials she used on me (manufacturer and specific product name) as far as the glass ionomer, the composite, adhesive, etching, etc. I used to ask my old dentist and he always told me. The extra knowledge always helped me in terms of the phobia. I didn't feel comfortable asking her. Now I may be needing to see an ENT or an allergist to see if I am having some kind of rejection of the materials. Even if the physician can't use the information, I would like to have it for a complete record.

My questions are:
1) Does the dentist have to keep a detailed record of what was used on me in terms of the different materials?
2) Does she have to give me that information? and
3) As a patient, what is my best route for getting that information - as in how do I ask (phone, letter, etc), is it likely that the dentist will be put off or find this inappropriate, etc.?
I don't think we have any US based dentists on here any more, unless somebody is lurking and comes out now? :)
Hi Anne2021

You absolutely have the right to your records. As an anxious pt, I applied to be on the dental board as a public member. I didn't really think I"d make it but they took me :) I learned alot, including, The dentists have to keep very good and detailed records, there are alot of techinical things they have to do and include, its extensive and they can get in a bit of trouble if not.. to put it lightly. You can ask them to email you or you can pick them up, the only thing is they can technically charge you the amount it takes for the copy machine. I've personally never been charged. I went in person when my favorite dentist left his office I was seeing him at and they made copies within 30 minutes for me. When I moved states I asked my then current dentist and he emailed my records to me quickly as well. I hope that helps.
@krlovesherkids777 Thank you for this. Yes, it does help. It gives me a bit more confidence in asking for the information. Naturally, all things dental make me very nervous and asking for my record will definitely be one of those things. Thanks again!
The first time I asked for mine I was SOOO nervous.. it was only adrenaline that got me going. As I was in a bit of panic my dentist that I finally got that I trusted left and they were going to put me with another I did NOT feel comfortable with.. To us its a huge anxiety thing, to them its an every day normal thing. Especially you have a great reason to ask to share with your Dr. and sometimes they will say they can directly forward to the dr.. just tell them you want for your own records as well and will pass it on to the dr. You are entitled to them directly.
@krlovesherkids777 Thank you for sharing your experience. I'm so nervous, too. It's the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning. I'm struggling with the thought that this will totally alienate her and not knowing where else I would go, I'm scared that she won't want me for a patient anymore.
I had those same thoughts when I did , that was before I knew a little more about it. I didn't want to alienate or have my dentist think I wasn't confident or didn't like or want him.. (even though he was very new to me and really I was just starting with him ) but I still felt bad.. I guess I"m kind of an empath, high sensitive :) I told all the 2nd opinions that I'd prefer my dentist didn't know I ever went for another opinion.. the nice thing is they were ALL like.. we would never tell him, he doesn't need to know.. people do this all the time.. so I felt confident it was fully between them and I and felt empowered
@krlovesherkids777 I'm trying to work up the courage today and to decide whether to call or fill out the contact form on their website (it says it's for new patient appointments, but they could pass it along, right?). Well, I called the state dental board in my state to ask about what they are required to put in the record and he told me that none of it has to be specific! Not even how much anesthetic they use. That was very discouraging. How can they not have to record every specific detail of what they do? These are our bodies and our health. I don't understand why dentistry is so separated from the rest of medicine.
@krlovesherkids777 I have set up a second opinion and managed to get in this Thursday afternoon. I'm analyzing to death whether to ask for my record with the current dentist before that appointment or after. By the way, in case you couldn't tell, I also am kind of an empath/high sensitive. It tends to work against me sometimes. I can usually see through whether someone is pretending to be kind and patient or is actually kind and patient. I think my current dentist is the pretending variety, but I had faith in her technical skills and her confidence in her own abilities made me choose her. Now it's working against me because she seems a bit unapproachable.
Anne201..Great job getting an appointment for a second opinion! Hopefully that will make you feel more comfortable, even just having a little more practice communicating with a dental practice, I know for me it wasn't as intimidating quite as bad as I knew I wasn't there for surgery or treatment and that made me feel a little more in control and I feel like every expereince like this gave me a little more empowerment to communicate with my dentist . agh, I'm so sorry about your state board.. a bit surprised they are so lacks. I know the state I represented they were sticklers and would get in trouble if anything was brought up or questioned from a patient to the board. Hopefully when you get your records you will see they are well written and specific. I can get the feeling too about you being a empath/high sensitive in a good way :) Sorry, your dentist seems unapproachable..You definately want to make sure they will listen and be patient and put your needs and comfort first and not just do a procedure to get it done! I would encourage you to not put aside gut feelings. I know being empath it can be hard .. but trust yourself. You will feel it when you have that peace.. its undeniable.
@krlovesherkids777 I called my dentist's office today to ask about getting my dental record. The staff on the phone said that I needed to come in and sign a form to give them permission to send the records to another office. I said that I wanted it sent to me. She seemed surprised, but that was it. So, I went over there and walked in and mentioned I had just spoken with her on the phone. She pulled out the form and asked if I was going to another office. I said, no (since I'm just getting a second opinion and may stay with my current dentist). I said I just wanted the records for myself. I mentioned that I had been a patient in that office since 2008 and would like the records as far back as I could get. (I saw two dentists in that office before this one, losing each as they retired). She seemed taken aback and said it would just be my x-rays. I said I needed the whole record. She looked confused and said, you mean the dentist's notes? I said, yes, everything. Then she got closed off and said that she would have to ask the dentist and it probably wouldn't go that far back and it might be archived. I walked out and had another thought and walked back in and said - if it's a matter of it only being on paper, not in the computer system, I would be willing to pay what is necessary to get the records. She looked truly upset by my request, and now I am concerned about whether I will get much from them. I did check another resource as well yesterday and was told again that it is my absolute legal right to get everything. This is so disturbing.

Hello Anne2021..First off, I"m so proud of you for going in and and not only asking but really going after what is yours, and not backing down . I'm sure it was just a tad,, if maybe a slight understand.. intimidating , nerve wracking when they were giving push back. They do have to give you more than just the xrays. Thought you might find this interesting. as an example. Not sure which state you are in , but here are the laws for ex in MN . You can see all the things they need to get into the records.. again its just one state, but I'm guessing other states are very similiar. Have to buzz back to work but wanted to answer you.
@krlovesherkids777 Thank you for this. I am in Nebraska. I received an email from them less than an hour ago. It said, "HERE IS THE TX LIST YOU REQUESTED I WENT BACK AS FAR AS I COULD." It was a printout of appointment dates and charges and what teeth were filled when there was work done. It looked like something from their accounting system (I'm an accountant, so this is what I would expect to see on an account printout). She knew that is not what I wanted. I don't know what in the world is going on, but it looks like if I keep pushing to get what I need, I will definitely not be able to go back there. I wrote an email in response, addressed to the staff member who helped me and the dentist herself, and made it clear what I want. I asked for the complete health record that they have and then I specifically pointed out needing the information on all materials used at my last appointment. I am so tired and so frustrated and so done. If it's my information and they should know that, how can they resist?

I'm sorry they are giving you such pushback. agh. :dunno: .They really should have everything in the system for a print out for you. how frustrating . I hope they will come through without too much more difficulty. I'm so sorry this has been a hard one. They can't resist..

I'm wondering if they are so busy they are just trying to juggle and do the minimal for times sake? either way I'm sorry you are going through this to get them.
@krlovesherkids777 It has been more than 24 hours and the office is closed for the day and no one contacted me to even confirm receipt of my email. I'm starting to think I will need a lawyer to exercise my rights. And I am the last person to want anything to do with that kind of heavy-handedness. I feel weak and sick about this and get physical symptoms of nervousness and dread every time I check my email.
@Anne2021 I'm very sorry you are going through this! I so get that sick feeling when you are waiting and not getting and keep checking. I'd probably have a few scenarios going on in my head as of why they are not getting back? I can say one thing.. I had a dental office that was AWFUL with emails. A few of those close to me would joke about it going into the black hole of emails at the office, it was getting quite frustrating. That didn't have to do with records but questions about my treatment which was nerve wracking too. I found the trick to email that office was emaling the dentist himself at that office and he would answer fairly quickly. Otherwise it would just disappear and I would sit for a week so in total anxiety over it

I know it took you alot of courage to ask..I know you have second opinion. I know you wanted to have it for that. I'd be curious what they would say if you mentioned you asked for your records but were not given yet and asked them about how long they would suggest that should take .

If it comes to it. You could always call the board and ask if you'd prefer not to give the name of dentist just say, you'd like to keep anonymous but was wondering the answer.

Either way.. I'm sorry you have to deal with this. Someone should get back to you within a reasonable time. at least to let you know they are working on it even if not done. Being in patient care rep field for drs office, our timing was 24 hours for an answer at the most and usually well before that. Sometimes, the final product would take longer but we at least got back saying, this is what is happening. I hope they get back soon.

Also, I hope you have a good 2nd opinion tomorrow and you get a peace of mind and maybe they might be an option for care that is compassionate and kind and reasonable.
@krlovesherkids777 Thank you for this.

My appointment is in just over an hour, and I am quite nervous even though I know that I'm not having any work done today. I'm planning to work in a couple of questions about how much information they keep in their records and how they release records when requested. I'm wondering if all the notes and information would have been included if I had just asked them to be sent to another dentist. I'm also wondering what they're trying to hide. I'm kicking myself for using the dentist that I did.
@krlovesherkids777 Wow, was that an experience. I really like this guy. I had seen him a bit several years ago before settling on the one that recently retired. He is kind and patient in a way that does not seem fake or forced. He examined all my remaining teeth and only sees one that needs a small filling. The dentist who did the two fillings five weeks ago wants to do six! I sense a third opinion coming because she was adamant that five teeth on the bottom need restorations before we took partial dentures impressions.

I asked him about the bad taste I have had since the fillings. He doesn't see anything wrong with them, and could only suggest some basic hygiene reminders in case it's coming from trapped food. That's not it, but I don't blame him.

I also carefully asked him about dental records and what they write in there. He said they indicate whether the filling was amalgam, composite, or glass ionomer. I asked if they put specifics about the materials - like manufacturer and product name, etc. No. They don't. I called the state dental board the other day as well and was hoping the person who I spoke with was wrong when they told me that they don't have to put any specifics about materials in there. Now I'm thinking they weren't wrong. (I kind of already figured that, but wanted to hope anyway). What a state I live in. How can things be so lax? Doctors would never get away with that, but dentists can put anything in your mouth and there is no accountability.

I'm not sure what to do next. I mean, if they did write it down at my dentist's office, it sounds like they have to give it to me - which they aren't doing. But is it worth seeking an attorney's help if nothing is in there? At this point, I'm thinking that they have destroyed them from the way the staff person spoke with me and what she wrote. Is it so wrong to know what mixture of chemicals are in my mouth? Is it any wonder why I have avoided the dentist for so long?
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@Anne2021 ,

I am so glad to hear it went well, sounds like he is genuine, that is so relieving.. Sounds like he is honest and conservative. :thumbsup!: It is a bit crazy how there can be such differing opinions on tx plans between different dentists. Myself, the last year I got one that said , you need 20,000 minimum work basically saying I needed to scrap whatever I had on the bottom. Then the next one gave me a 3,000 quote with my insurance with finishing off one implant crown and then doing partial for one area and he said he would treat conservatively wanting to keep whatever in there if its not bugging me. WHAT a difference.. eeks. anyways, needless to say the 20,000 guy was dust in the wind.

That is too bad with the records as far as the requirements not being so stringent. I'm glad you asked the second opinion dentist.. I imagine it wasn't quite as nerving but still a bit.. Personally yeah I think the more information we get the more at peace we can feel and that there are alot of dentists who will take the time to explain and write it in your chart.

I don't think it would hurt to just ask an attorney and see what they say, its just information. and it may give you greater validation and clarity.. ?