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All About Dental Ethics: The Importance of Upholding Integrity and Professional Standards

It's important to put your patients first. Here's some of the basic ethical principles for dentists.

Dental Intelligence

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November 9, 2023

Patients who come to your dental practice expect to be treated with a basic level of care and dignity. Knowing the most important ethical principles for dentists can ensure you emphasize ethical care within each patient interaction. 

Learn more about dental ethics and how your practice can go above and beyond to uphold integrity for patients. 

Why Are Ethics in Dentistry Important? 

Upholding ethical principles in dentistry is crucial to your practice’s compliance, reputation, and overall success. Patients need to feel confident that your practice prioritizes their safety and health every time they step foot in your office, and maintaining dental ethics is an obvious sign that you care about your patients. On the other hand, failing to uphold these principles could leave your dental practice liable for mistakes, leading to malpractice claims and a serious hit to your reputation. 

You may have gone into the dental industry for many reasons, but no matter your motivation, the patient should always be your top priority. Taking care to maintain ethics within your practice will ensure that patients have the best possible experience and walk away better than when they arrived. 

Basic Ethical Principles for Dentists

Below are a few basic principles of dental ethics and tips for how your practice can support them.

Ensure Patient Autonomy

Patient autonomy is a basic principle in the ADA’s code of ethics for dentists. It refers to upholding the right of patients to make informed decisions about their treatment. 

Your dental practice can support patient autonomy by: 

Promote Patient Well-Being

Everything you do should be in the patient’s best interest. The principle of beneficence refers to prioritizing patient welfare to maximize the benefits they receive from your practice. 

Your practice can uphold beneficence by: 

Avoid Intentional or Unintentional Harm

It may seem like a no-brainer, but the principle of non-maleficence is another core component of dental ethics. It means avoiding intentionally or unintentionally harming patients by weighing the risks of a treatment against the benefits and choosing the treatment that poses the most benefits to the patient. 

You can practice non-maleficence by: 

Treat Patients Fairly

Avoiding bias within your dental treatments is another important tenet of dental ethics. You should treat all patients equally regardless of their race, class, background, financial situation, or other diversifying factors. 

Your practice can prioritize the fair treatment of patients by: 

Maintain Confidentiality and Privacy 

As a dental professional, you probably have HIPAA laws ingrained into your psyche. Confidentiality and privacy are two huge ethical principles that every staff member must maintain. Failing to comply with HIPAA could cause your licenses to be taken away, preventing you from practicing dentistry. 

At a minimum, your practice should do the following to uphold confidentiality and privacy: 

Dental Intelligence Can Give You Time to Prioritize Dental Ethics

Using a full-scale dental practice performance solution like Dental Intelligence can give you more time in the day to prioritize dental ethics and improve the patient experience. Even better, Dental Intelligence includes numerous features that can help you uphold ethical principles, like secure privacy measures, streamlined consent forms for dental treatment, and customizable treatment plan templates. 

Request your free Dental Intelligence demo today to learn more about this end-to-end practice performance solution. 

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