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Frequently Asked Questions

Before sending an e-mail, see if your answer is here among these frequently asked questions:

  • How can I find low-cost dental care?

    Assistance programs vary from state to state, so you may want to contact your state dental society to see if there are programs in your area.

    Another possible source of lower-cost dental care is a dental school clinic. Generally, dental costs in school clinics are reduced and may include only partial payment for professional services covering the cost of materials and equipment. Your state dental society can tell you if there is a dental school clinic in your area, or you can search our list.

    For more resources, please visit the National Institute of Health's Web site.

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  • Where can I file a complaint?

    Even in the best dentist-patient relationship, a problem may occur. First, discuss any concerns you have with your dentist. Many times this will help clear up the matter. If you are still not pleased, contact your state or local dental association.

    Local dental societies have established a dispute resolution system called peer review to help resolve the occasional disagreement about dental treatment. Peer review provides an impartial and easily accessible means for resolving misunderstandings regarding the appropriateness or quality of care and, in certain instances, about the fees charged for dental treatment.

    A peer review committee will attempt to mediate the problem. They may meet to discuss the case and may examine clinical records, talk to the dentist and patient and, when indicated, arrange for a clinical examination

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  • How can I get a copy of my dental records?

    Talk with your dentist about getting a copy of your dental records. Dentists covered by the HIPAA privacy rule are required to provide patients with a copy of their records and state law may also apply.

    The ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct states:

    "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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  • Should I brush or floss first?

    The sequence makes no difference as long as you do a thorough job. Look for products that have the ADA's Seal of Acceptance. Choose a toothbrush that feels comfortable in your hand and in your mouth, and use it twice a day. While tooth brushing removes plaque from tooth surfaces, it can't do the entire job of removing plaque. Cleaning between the teeth daily with floss or other interdental cleaners removes debris from between the teeth, where your toothbrush cannot reach. An ADA-Accepted dental floss or interdental cleaner is recommended.

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  • How do you know if you're doing a thorough job?

    Your dentist may recommend using plaque disclosing tablets available over-the-counter at pharmacies and other stores that sell oral hygiene products. Plaque disclosing tablets are chewed after you clean your mouth. Red dye will stain plaque that has not been removed showing you spots that need additional cleaning.

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  • Can you advise me about my dental treatment?

    The ADA cannot provide diagnosis or treatment advice. If you don't have a dentist or need a second opinion or need help resolving a dispute, please see this Oral Health topic for a referral. Visit the National Oral Health Information Clearing House (NOHIC) web site. The NOHIC Web site at www.nidcr.nih.gov/ and www.nidcr.nih.gov/HealthInformation/SpecialCareResources/default.htm contains oral health information, news and events, Web searches and links to other oral health resources.

    Another resource is Medline™, the National Library of Medicine's searchable database of more than 12 million citations from more than 4,600 medical, dental, health and scientific journals. Launched by the NLM in 1971, MEDLINE contains citations of dental articles dating back three decades to 1964.

    Try an internet search, using a search engine such as www.google.com and entering the word, term or phrase to locate information. You also could check at your local public library to see if a dental or medical reference book contains the information that you seek.

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  • Where can I get individual dental insurance?

    The ADA does not have information about individual dental insurance or dental plans. Please contact your state's department of insurance. Please see www.naic.org/state_web_map.htm for a link to your state.

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  • I can't find what I'm looking for? Where else can I search?

    You may wish to visit the National Oral Health Information Clearing House (NOHIC) web site for information on this subject. The NOHIC Web sites at www.nidcr.nih.gov/ and www.nidcr.nih.gov/HealthInformation/SpecialCareResources/default.htm contain oral health information, news and events, Web searches and links to other oral health resources.Medline™ is the National Library of Medicine's searchable database of more than 12 million citations from more than 4,600 medical, dental, health and scientific journals. Launched by the NLM in 1971, MEDLINE contains citations of dental articles dating back three decades to 1964. Go to: www.ada.org/3737.aspx and www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/toothdisorders.html .

    Try an Internet search, using a search engine such as www.google.com and entering the word, term or phrase to locate information. You also could check at your local public library to see if a dental or medical reference book contains the information that you seek

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  • Do dentists accept major credit cards?

    Yes, most dentists accept major credit cards, such as Visa and Mastercard. Many also offer monthly payment plans through an outside health care financing partner. Although similar to a department-store credit card, these payment plans can only be used for your health care needs. Typically, you can begin treatment immediately with little or no money down and then comfortably make low monthly payments over time.

    ADA Business ResourcesSM exclusively endorses the CareCredit program. For more information, an online application or to find a dentist who offers CareCredit, go to www.carecredit.com.

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  • Will my dentist bill me?

    While some dentists provide this courtesy to their long-term patients, others do not offer in-house financing. Instead, they rely on an outside patient financing program to make dentistry financially comfortable and convenient. Typically, you can begin treatment immediately with little or no money down and then make low monthly payments over time.  

    ADA Business ResourcesSM exclusively endorses the CareCredit program. For more information, an online application or to find a dentist who offers CareCredit, go to www.carecredit.com

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Please note: The ADA does not provide specific answers to individual questions about fees, dental problems, conditions, diagnoses, treatments or proposed treatments, or requests for research. Information about dental referrals, complaints and a variety of dental procedures may be found on ADA.org.

There is no professional/clinical information on this topic.

  • For easy-to-use information you can share with your patients, please click the "Patient Version" tab above.

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