A dental record is a detailed document containing the history of illness, physical examination, diagnosis, treatment and management of a patient regarding their dental care. It is now legally mandated for dentists to maintain proper dental records of their patients because of their importance in the responsibility of the patient, the credibility of the dentist and forensic medicine.
Quality patient care
Dental records contain information about all treatments received. These details are essential because they affect treatment decisions. For instance, x-rays will let the dentist be aware of present concerns and track changes over time. Dental records also save the patient time and money and spare them the discomfort of having to repeat procedures. They’re even essential for continuity of patient treatment and follow-ups. If the patient ever switches dentists, the records contain enough information to allow the new dentist to treat them effectively.
The credibility of the dentist
Quality dental records show the capability and competence of a dentist. They can be used to respond to a patient’s complaint, in defense to malpractice allegations or to justify treatment in case of an audit. They help demonstrate that the diagnosis and treatment were reasonable and within practice standards. A sparse record will portray the clinician to be negligent, and they could lose their credibility.
Dental records play a vital role in forensic investigations. If teeth are used as weapons in an attack, then the perpetrator can be identified using the bite marks left. They are also useful in the determination of chronological age in children by comparing them with dental eruption charts. Also of importance, the rugal patterns can be applied for the identification of victims of panfacial trauma such as car accidents and burns.
In conclusion, dental records are essential not only for patients but dentists as well in ensuring proper patient care and improving efficiency in the work of the dentist.