Informed Consent in the Dental Office

Published on September 28, 2012 by Dr Jankowski

Informed consent is a phrase used in the dental office to indicate that a person gives consent for a procedure based upon the clear understanding of the facts, implications, and future consequences of a procedure or action. In our case it is typically a filling, root canal, cleaning, extraction, placement of a dental implant or a periodontal procedure such as periodontal surgery or scaling and root planing.

At our office we make a point to discuss what we want to perform, why and what could possibly go wrong during a procedure and what could happen if nothing is done because doing nothing is always a choice.

When nothing is done we then encounter the dilemma of informed refusal where you need to know the consequences of refusing treatment.   An example is when a patient refuses to have a crown placed on a root canal treated tooth when they understand the increased potential for fracture and probable tooth loss.  An honest dentist gives priority to good patient care, conservative treatment and presents all treatment options in order to ensure that a patient makes an informed decision. The sad truth that there are some dentists that push overtreatment and extravagant treatment plans on patients without discussing lesser alternatives pros and cons and the risks of doing nothing at all.

I pride myself in our office that the staff and myself answer all of your questions, explain what we will be doing before we do it. One of my favorite sayings is “Inform before you perform” If you tell someone what could go wrong after it happens your looked upon as making an excuse not informed consent.  The days of just sitting down in the chair and you letting me work on does not count as informed consent.  For more than basic procedures we even have written consent forms to help make sure we don’t miss anything.

I hope you find this informative. Contact us and schedule an appointment or a free consultation if you have questions about proposed treatment or want to learn more about improving your oral health.