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What is Informed Consent in Dentistry?


May 18, 2022




Think you already know everything you need to about informed consent? We’ll fill you in on some information that may be new for you.

Getting informed consent from a patient means establishing an agreement on a legal document, granting you clearance to provide treatment or carry out a procedure. Obtaining informed consent from the patient or their parent/guardian on a consent form is generally required of dental providers prior to treatment.

This may vary depending on the state’s regulations, emergency situation, and procedure being done. The consent form gives patients a sound understanding of what the procedure entails, the risks involved, alternative options, and the right to refuse treatment. It also protects providers from potential legal ramifications.

Verbal vs Documented Consent

Discussing treatment options with a patient transparently so they understand the implications, risks, and potential side effects is important. Obtaining informed dental consent requires acknowledged consent by the patient or guardian on a legal document.

Verbal consent from a patient may not suffice for many treatments, without a signed consent form. Because regulations on this can vary per state and depend on the procedure, it’s wise to check with your state for specifics.

Who is responsible for obtaining informed consent?

Informed Consent

Although it varies from state to state and depends on the laws, an informed dental consent form is usually provided and attained by the provider or staff. The process of educating the patient or their guardian on the procedure and what expectations they should have can be done by either staff or the provider.

Is it mandatory to have informed dental consent for all dental procedures?

Although dental consent forms provide many benefits for both patients and providers by creating trust, and legal documentation, there are certain circumstances or situations that may not require documented informed consent.

As mentioned previously, different states have varying laws, with some more lenient than others in regards to obtaining informed consent for every procedure.

Dental operations and treatments typically require prior consent, but minor testing or emergency care in certain situations may have exceptions.

Informed Dental Consent and Minors

Informed Dental Consent

The majority of states consider anyone under the age of 18 as a minor. Due to their vulnerabilities, and limitations in comprehending what informed consent is, along with what treatments may entail, a parent or legal guardian is usually needed for providing their consent.


In the dental industry, receiving patients' consent before conducting any (non-emergency) procedure is the gold standard, aiming to protect providers and patients. Dental consent forms provide patients with clarity on treatments, and safeguard providers from potential legal action.

mConsent simplifies the process for dental practices, by digitizing consent forms, and enabling patients to complete and submit them remotely, syncing directly into your practice management software (Open Dental, Eaglesoft, Dentrix, and Dolphin).

Learn how mConsent can make your practice paperless, improving efficiency, and cutting down 35% of documentation time.

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