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Dentistry: Code of Ethics and Professionalism

Professionalism is always associated with professional ethics and the ability to respect client’s needs. Unsurprisingly, dentistry has its own Code of Ethics and, therefore, the perceptions of how a true professional should interact with the clients. Dentists commit to society and the society, in its turn, awaits high-standard help from the specialists dealing with their most crucial possessions – health.

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A Code of Ethics is essential for any professional organization as it provides the service market with the necessary regulations to enhance client’s trust and professional’s responsibility. A professional should be attentive to the customers’ needs and values, aspire to the professional development and contribute to positive changes in the society. (American College of Dentists, 2016, p. IX). According to the American College of Dentists (2016), “this separates the learned professions from those self-proclaimed “professions” that essentially exchange goods and services” (p. IX). Health professions are the professions that not only need a Code of Ethics but strive for it.

Moreover, responsibility for the nation’s health should not only be taken by the individual professionals and professional organizations. Health, along with education, is an essential driver of a nation’s development and success, and the proper understanding of the health care and educational systems should be entrenched in the society. Community interests are reflected in the Code of Ethics. As stated by the American College of Dentists (2016), “the dentist … also has obligation to aid the community with its general problems and should be willing to donate some time for their solution” (p.1). Although, this is not a one-sided process. For instance, clients have the right to determine what should be done with their bodies while dentists are to inform them about the current trends in the health care system. (American College of Dentists, 2016, p. 22). This fact illustrates that clients are also obliged to conduct properly, though they do not have ethical obligations under the Code.

The Code should be enforced by considering the contract between the dental professional and the society. The American Dental Association (2016) suggests that “there are five fundamental principles that form the foundation of the ADA Code: patient autonomy, non-maleficence, beneficence, justice and veracity” (p. 3). Professionals are to be educated properly, with attention paid to not only medical knowledge but also the enhancement of tolerance, compassion, integrity, enthusiasm to provide benefits for the society, etc. Moreover, the Code of Ethics should be based on human rights, the principle of universality and respect for people with different values. The code should be enforced by the monitoring, provided by the dental non-profit organizations, and feedback of the clients, who have the permission to comment on the quality of help. If the patient was not informed of the treatment decisions correctly, and the dentist hasn’t made vital records that are necessary for future treatment, the customer has the right to complain about the case. The cases of sexual harassment or disclosing information of sensitive nature are reasonable causes for negligence complaint and further investigation.

Importantly, the commitments of a dentist to the society should be contained in a well-structured document covering such essential aspects as tolerance, confidentiality, respect for clients demands and values, integrity and autonomy of the patients. Although, only members of the professional organization should obey the Code, some points of it cover the clients’ right for self-determination and their responsibility for the information provided. The Code of Ethics should be enforced by proper educational standards focusing on the moral qualities of the future professionals. The society should be aware of the general tendencies in the health care system to understand if the professionals care about ethics.


American College of Dentists. (2016). Ethics handbook for dentists: An introduction to ethics, professionalism, and ethical decision making. Gaithersburg, MD: Author.

American Dental Association. (2016). Principles of ethics and code of professional conduct. Chicago, IL: Author.

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