ADA Code of Ethics
The Code of Professional Conduct is organized into five sections. Each section falls under the Principle of Ethics that predominately applies to it. Advisory Opinions follow the section of the Code that they interpret.
Section 1 — Principle: Patient Autonomy ("self-governance"). The dentist has a duty to respect the patient's rights to self-determination and confidentiality. This principle expresses the concept that professionals have a duty to treat the patient according to the patient's desires, within the bounds of accepted treatment, and to protect the patient's confidentiality. Under this principle, the dentist's primary obligations include involving patients in treatment decisions in a meaningful way, with due consideration being given to the patient's needs, desires and abilities, and safeguarding the patient's privacy.
Code of Professional Conduct
1.A. Patient Involvement
The dentist should inform the patient of the proposed treatment, and any reasonable alternatives, in a manner that allows the patient to become involved in treatment decisions.
Section 2 — Principle: Nonmaleficence
Principle: Nonmaleficence ("do no harm"). The dentist has a duty to refrain from harming the patient. This principle expresses the concept that professionals have a duty to protect the patient from harm. Under this principle, the dentist's primary obligations include keeping knowledge and skills current, knowing one's own limitations and when to refer to a specialist or other professional, and knowing when and under what circumstances delegation of patient care to auxiliaries is appropriate Code of Professional Conduct
The privilege of dentists to be accorded professional status rests primarily in the
knowledge, skill and experience with which they serve their patients and society. All
dentists, therefore, have the obligation of keeping their knowledge and skill
3.C. Research And Development.
Dentists have the obligation of making the results and benefits of their investigative
efforts available to all when they are useful in safeguarding or promoting the health
of the public.
Section 5 — Principle: Veracity
Principle: Veracity ("truthfulness"). The dentist has a duty to communicate
This principle expresses the concept that professionals have a duty to be honest and
trustworthy in their dealings with people. Under this principle, the dentist's primary
obligations include respecting the position of trust inherent in the dentist-patient
relationship, communicating truthfully and without deception, and maintaining
5.D.1. Reporting Adverse Reactions. A dentist who suspects the occurrence of an
adverse reaction to a drug or dental device has an obligation to communicate that
information to the broader medical and dental community, including, in the case
of a serious adverse event, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
5.A.1. Dental Amalgam. Based on available scientific data the ADA has determined
through the adoption of Resolution 42H-1986 (Trans.1986:536) that the removal of
amalgam restorations from the non-allergic patient for the alleged purpose of removing
toxic substances from the body, when such treatment is performed solely at the
recommendation or suggestion of the dentist, is improper and unethical.
5.A.2. Unsubstantiated Representations. A dentist who represents that dental
treatment recommended or performed by the dentist has the capacity to cure or
alleviate diseases, infections or other conditions, when such representations are not
based upon accepted scientific knowledge or research, is acting unethically.