Teen/Dentist Confidentiality

I am 16 years old. Does my father have a right to know what I tell my dentist about my past medical history?


The legal issues of dentist-adolescent confidentiality are often unclear. Keeping medical records confidential is extremely important to maintain the highest level of trust and care between the doctor and the patient. Some argue that this confidentiality is a basic right. Yet parents are responsible for the acts of minors and often pay the medical bills of their children. Therefore, they feel that they have a right to know their medical history.

The legal definition of "minor" and "adolescent" varies among states and countries. All states do have laws that define who may consent to medical care and at what age parental consent is not necessary. Confidentiality and treatment consent laws are usually consistent for dentists and physicians within a given jurisdiction. Certain states extend special rights to consent of minors requesting services for substance abuse, pregnancy, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases and mental health.

I suggest that you call your public attorney's office to determine the confidentiality laws in your state.

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