The five principles of dental ethics apply to some extent to all patients and appointments. Not practicing according to these guidelines not only exposes the risk of malpractice, but also negatively affects the patient. These principles ensure cost-effective and ethical practice and pave the way for navigating the patient`s appointment with a positive outcome. Non-malevolence or «do not cause harm» means that the «professional has a duty not to harm the patient». 1 Non-maleficence covers a wide range of dental ethics, such as provider skills and knowledge, impairments, post-exposure, patient abandonment, and personal relationships. Non-malignancy requires that the dentist has the ability and knowledge to treat within their limits. Justice or «equity» is «dental care without prejudice.» 2 Justice covers a range of issues such as patient selection, emergency services, justified criticism, expert opinion and discounts or shared fees. Second, involving the patient in the decision-making process requires the patient`s understanding of the diagnosis, which is crucial for the patient`s consent or refusal of treatment. The use of dental X-rays and intraoral images can make it easier to understand the patient`s diagnosis. Meeting the licensing requirements of continuing dental education is essential to improving the dental provider`s ability to provide information in a way that allows the patient to understand the diagnosis and the treatment options available. The five key principles of dental ethics are patient autonomy, non-malignancy, charity, justice and truthfulness.2 Understanding each of these principles will provide the guidance needed to ensure that patients` needs are met in accordance with the ethical guidelines of dental licensing. However, the principle of patient autonomy allows the patient to reject treatment options. Therefore, it is the ethical duty of the provider to inform the patient of the results of non-compliance with any of the treatment options.
However, the principle of non-malefiance is the understanding that the provider should not be negligent and should perform treatment. Otherwise, the lack of treatment would be negligent and harm the patient`s oral health. First, patient selection cannot be determined by race, creed, gender, or disability. However, the dentist may «exercise reasonable discretion» in selecting patients.3 An example that falls under «reasonable discretion» is the refusal to provide care to a patient with a disability because the practice may not be equipped for optimal care or the patient`s health would be negatively affected by dental treatment provided by the patient`s primary medical care provider. Whenever the scope of treatment exceeds their competence or training, there is an ethical obligation to refer the patient to a competent dentist. Providing substandard treatments that can cause more harm than good should never be considered and is a violation of dental ethics under non-malignancy.3 Maintaining current real-world knowledge through continuing dental education, as required by government guidelines, also falls into the category of non-malignancy. Suppliers also have an ethical duty to maintain a professional manner in the community and must therefore practice in accordance with the rules and regulations of their governing body. For example: «Provide competent and timely dental care, taking into account the needs, desires and values of the patient.» 3 This also applies to emergency public prescriptions so that dental offices do not harm the public while maintaining a level of care for their patients. In addition, providing emergency care or facilitating emergency care to patients, referring patients treated as part of emergency care to their original dentist, and reporting another dentist for gross negligence or ongoing incorrect dental treatment are all elements of justice.3 In terms of competence and timely dental service, There are two main concepts, which must be taken into account. First, providers should consider and prioritize all treatment options. In most dental situations, options can be provided to improve patients` ability to comply with treatment recommendations. Secondly, in each specific situation, it is essential to determine the best treatment for the patient in order to maintain optimal dental health.
In implementing these concepts, timely dental treatment is optimized.3 Patient autonomy or «self-management» is the primary obligation of the dental provider and «involves the meaningful participation of the patient in treatment decisions with due regard to the patient`s needs, desires, abilities, and the protection of the patient`s privacy.» 2 The main components of patient autonomy are patient information, patient involvement, and confidentiality of patient records.2 Informing the patient about defective dental diseases or problems is the first step towards patient autonomy. Finally, non-maleficence involves leaving patients and personal relationships. With regard to the patient`s task, the dental service provider is obliged to properly notify the discontinuation of treatment so that the patient can request further treatment in another place. The provider`s requirements for the patient`s task help to ensure that no harm is done to the patient by endangering their oral health. Once the physician knows the key elements of dental ethics, these principles can be applied to navigate the patient`s appointment. When diagnosing a patient, not only clinical outcomes play a role, but also the ethics to successfully manage the appointment. Dental ethics is «a system of principles that govern dental practice, a moral obligation to provide the patient with the highest quality dental services and to maintain an honest relationship with other professionals and society.» 1 Dental ethics play an essential role in the daily practice of dental hygiene, infiltrating the «how», «why» and «when» of treatment. Knowledge, presentation and communication are also important concepts to respect the limits of dental ethics. Charity or «doing good» is the principle that states that «professionals have a duty to act for the good of others.» 1 Charity includes «the provision of competent and timely services», providers present themselves professionally to the community and in their practices, providers adhere to rules and regulations in their practices, providers provide research and development services of treatments specifically designed for their patients and mandatory reporting.2 Once treatment has been considered, The principle of justice takes precedence. treat the patient without prejudice (justice), regardless of their financial situation, race, creed or gender for example.
For example, a patient with active periodontitis may occur. The principle of veracity is represented by the latest scientific research and results in the diagnosis and treatment of this patient. The principle of charity comes into play by considering all the treatment options available to the patient and presenting the most optimal treatment. In addition, optimizing current research on treatment development and providing information to the patient or public is essential to meet individual and public oral health needs. Dental research plays a crucial role in reducing potential harm while working in the interest of the patient and the public. In addition, practice with a disability (p. e.g., through the use of controlled substances, chemical agents or alcohol) may inhibit the supplier`s full ability to treat and is important for understanding non-malignancy. In addition, a personal physician-patient relationship, such as associates, can impair professional judgment, putting the patient at risk and jeopardizing the patient`s trust.2 Finally, maintaining «intellectual integrity» through research-based diagnosis or treatment when communicating with the patient is an important aspect of truthfulness. This includes using scientific research and not deceiving their patients, as well as following the rules and etiquette of approvals and insurance deposits.2 Respect for the doctor-patient relationship is a valuable attribute of truthfulness. In addition, honest and honest communication with the patient during diagnosis and treatment is within the limits of truth.