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Dental Ethics - Is Conventional Dentistry Ethical?

Here we will review the American Dental Association's (ADA) ethical guidelines for dentists. It is not clear how much monitoring of dental ethics occurs. The ADA goals sound reasonable. I will review some of them to help you get a clearer idea as to what to expect from an "ethical" dentist, and to comment on whether today, dentists really operate on ethical grounds. The original document is here. In bold are the quotes from the ADA ethics document.

II. Preamble: "Qualities of honesty, compassion, kindness, integrity, fairness and charity are part of the ethical education of a dentist and practice of dentistry and help to define the true professional."

This sounds great. An honest, fair and compassionate dentist. Where do I find one like this???

1.A. "The dentist should inform the patient of the proposed treatment, and any reasonable alternatives, in a manner that allows the patient to become involved in treatment decisions."

Cure Tooth Decay Comments on this Ethical Guideline: That means, ethically, dentists are required to let their patients know that on many occasions they can cure cavities by having a healthy diet. Many people have explained to me that a large majority of dentists are either unaware, or do not share reasonable and less invasive, less expensive, treatments. The ADA does not share that in 1936 Weston Price explained how to use whole foods to stop tooth decay.


A dentist has the ethical obligation on request of either the patient or the patient’s new dentist to furnish in accordance with applicable law, 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.

Cure Tooth Decay Comments on this Ethical Guideline: Great! Some patients have told me that dentists get upset at the patient when the patient asks for the records. It is your right as a patient to receive your dental records.

3.A. COMMUNITY SERVICE. Since dentists have an obligation to use their skills, knowledge and experience for the improvement of the dental health of the public and are encouraged to be leaders in their community, dentists in such service shall conduct themselves in such a manner as to maintain or elevate the esteem of the profession.

It would be a great service if dentists helped educate the world about the dangers of fluoride in the water, and the benefits of whole food diets in preventing tooth cavities.

Section 4 PRINCIPLE: JUSTICE (“fairness”). The dentist has a duty to treat people fairly.

Women, and minorities, and women who are from minority backgrounds do not generally receive equal treatment and advice. I have heard of several stories of women being advised serious dental procedures that they do not need. Of course, there are many dentists who don't discriminate, just be cautious.

Section 5 PRINCIPLE: VERACITY: This principle expresses the concept that professionals have a duty to be honest and trustworthy in their dealings with people.

Great principle.

More Commentary on Dental Ethics

5.A.1. DENTAL AMALGAM AND OTHER RESTORATIVE MATERIALS. Based on current scientific data, the ADA has determined that the removal of amalgam restorations from the non-allergic patient for the alleged purpose of removing toxic substances from the body, when such treatment is performed solely at the recommendation or suggestion of the dentist, is improper and unethical.

The ADA is saying it is an ethical violation. In other words, a dentist can lose their license for recommending the removal of poisonous mercury fillings in someone who is otherwise healthy. Mercury fillings are toxic to the body, there is no question of this. The FDA just lost a lawsuit and is forced to say that amalgam fillings are potentially toxic. The ADA is violating its own ethics here, because it requires a dentist to lie to the patient about the possible dangers of mercury fillings. This ethical guideline suggests that a dentist not give the best treatment possible, which for some would be to at least inform the patient that mercury fillings will in the long run very likely negatively affect their health. I don't suggest that everyone get their mercury fillings removed. But for some people it is a good idea.

I have heard several stories of people feeling that the replacement material once the mercury was removed didn't feel right. So take consideration for your amalgams.

5.B.6. UNNECESSARY SERVICES. A dentist who recommends and performs unnecessary dental services or procedures is engaged in unethical conduct.

Based on the work of Dentists Melvin Page, and Weston Price, 95% of or more of tooth cavities can be treated with nutrition. Therefore, most recommendations for tooth fillings, are in the purest form, unnecessary. Since, with the correct knowledge and dietary changes, most dental treatments are unnecessary, they are then unethical. Granted, most dentists don't know the work of Dr. Price. But at the same time, there is harm being done by this lack of knowledge as the best treatments are not brought to light before the public.

The ADA does not publish an official complaint form. I assume one exists. If you have been mistreated by a dentist, file a complaint. Contacting might be a good place to start.

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