I have a question about how a dentist reports a dental emergency. A couple nights ago, I was beaten and mugged. It was agonizing and mortifying. Let’s just say, I was in a bad part of town and not doing what I should have been doing. My activity was illegal. That’s all I’m going to say about that. So I obviously didn’t involve the police to protect myself. I thought my facial injuries would be fine in a couple of days. But as time goes on, I fell worse. My teeth are messed up and I know I should get into the dentist. I just don’t want to explain anything and I really don’t want to end up at the ER. Do you know if there are emergency dentists around that will protect my privacy? Or is a dentist under legal obligation to report a crime or situation like this?
– A lady that learned her lesson
Dear anonymous lady,
That is an interesting question and an interesting dilemma. Confidentiality laws for dentistry are kind of a gray area. Generally, if a dentist or physician feels that it is in your best interest or in the public’s best interest, he or she may feel like they need to get the authorities involved. For example, if the medical professional felt that it was possible that you may hurt yourself or someone else they would feel compelled to report it. But if there is no reason to suspect this possibility, there is no legal obligation to report the visit.
You can expect the dentist to ask your some questions about how the injuries happened. This information would be valuable in diagnosing and treating your dental emergency. Yet it is entirely up to you how much information you share with this person. Lying would not be advised, but you could probably answer with a response along the lines that you would rather not discuss it. He or she would get the drift. But be honest about the details that could potentially influence your treatment.
If the dental issue isn’t getting better after a couple days, you need to schedule an emergency dentist appointment as soon as possible. The sooner you act, you will likely have more options for treatment and the best possible chance to save your tooth or teeth. Or if there is injury to your jaw, it would also require prompt treatment.
This post is sponsored by Cleveland dentist Hylan Dental Care.