Dentists Say It’s Unethical To Criticize Other Doctors (VIDEO)

The clear majority of dentists avoid criticizing the work of other dentists. Professional courtesy seems to override other concerns.

Unfortunately, it’s not entirely clear if that’s based on doctors’ ethical standards or on fear of lawyers and possible legal repercussions. Either way, two of three dentists try not to bad-mouth their colleagues’ work.

Read more: Two Out of Three Dentists Won’t Criticize Colleagues’ Work

Is Dental Marketing Unethical? Dentists Think It Might Be… (Survey Results)

Dentists Are Torn over the Ethics of Marketing

In this poll, we asked dentists: Does dental marketing sully the reputation of dentists in the eyes of the public?
Dentists are split over the ethics of marketing

Dentists were split on the issue. The slight majority (54%) said, “Dental practitioners should hold themselves to a higher ethical code than used car salesmen.” The other 46% of respondents replied, “Today’s world is filled with ads, and consumers won’t judge a dentist negatively for advertising.”

  • I have increased my advertising over the past 18 months, and it has been very rewarding financially.” (New Hampshire dentist)
  • Heavy advertising reduces dentistry to a commodity rather than a professional service.” (North Carolina dentist)
  • “I was brought up to believe that a professional’s morals, ethics, quality of dentistry, and honesty brought patients to the office. I have depended on word-of-mouth referrals for the thirty-seven years I have been in practice.” (Mississippi dentist)
  • “If it diminished the profession in any way, the public would not go to those docs, and the ads in the phone book would be getting smaller.” (Georgia dentist)
  • “I am very disturbed in the direction the profession is headed. It’s one thing to say you don’t do amalgams and another to say you’re ‘mercury-free.’ ‘Pain free dentistry’ as opposed to what? Painful? It is all feeding into a very unprofessional, cut-throat and unethical atmosphere.” (Washington dentist)
  • “It costs so much to market, it’s hard to tell if its working, and we all have to do it to keep up with the other dentists who have started advertising.” (California dentist)
  • “Marketing ethically is one thing, but to say that marketing dentistry is unethical is ridiculous. What better way to communicate with prospective patients is there?” (Illinois dentist)
  • “Marketing itself does not necessarily demean the profession, but the majority of what is going on in dental marketing does.” (Texas orthodontist)
  • “It seems that newer dentists use any means possible to advertise their edge, and sometimes these are very misleading to patients.” (Wisconsin dentist)
  • “While most is ethical, it walks a fine line.” (New Jersey periodontist)
  • “‘Higher ethical codes’ don’t pay for college tuition for the kids, nor do they pay for one’s retirement!” (Texas dental sales consultant)
  • Post your own comments below!

Read the full dental marketing ethics survey results!

Survey: Dentists Don’t Bad-Mouth Colleagues

Dental Ethics Suggest Professional Loyalty Runs High

In our most recent survey, we asked: What do you do when you see a patient who’s had terrible work done by another dentist?

See complete survey results

Our survey results suggest professional courtesy overrides other concerns – but unfortunately, it’s not clear if that’s based on doctors’ ethical standards or if it’s actually based on fear of lawyers and possible legal repercussions.

Less than one-third of our respondents said, “Your primary obligation is to your patient. If their previous dental work was bad, they deserve to know, and it’s your job to tell them.” The majority said, “You keep your mouth shut out of respect to your dental colleagues. You don’t know the whole story, and it’s not ethical to bash another doctor’s work.”

The more urban the dentist, the more likely they were to keep quiet. Presumably, urban dentists (and, to a lesser extent, suburban dentists) are more sensitive to the possible legal issues that could arise from criticizing another doctor’s work.

The comments we received highlight doctors’ various concerns. Read more comments

It’s not the dentist’s place to bad-mouth other dentists


  • “Often if you bad mouth another and come up with an expensive plan, the patient may think ill of you.” (suburban Pennsylvania)
  • “You can get your point across diplomatically. ‘He who slings mud loses ground. ‘” (Rural Maine)
  • “My best today is better than my best was yesterday… I give my colleagues the benefit of the doubt.” (suburban Indiana)



What about their previous dentist?


  • “I have redone work by another dentist at no charge to the patient.” (suburban Kansas)
  • “I quite often offer to send the other dentist a letter with my findings.” (suburban California)
  • “I advise patients to see their previous dentist to have them ‘check’ the treatment and allow them the opportunity to rectify the situation.” (rural Arkansas)



The patient does have a right to know what’s in his or her mouth


  • “I don’t like to say bad things about other people’s dentistry, but if it is failing and I don’t say anything, I’m as much on the hook for it as the original provider.” (rural Colorado)
  • “If the patient asks (which they never do), then you have to tell the truth.” (urban California)
  • “The patient has a right to be informed of the conditions found in his mouth.” (rural Kentucky)



Unless you were there, you don’t know the whole story


  • “Another option would be to say, ‘I wasn’t there, but it appears that I would have done things differently.’ I suggest people in glass houses not throw stones!” (urban Texas)
  • “Walk a mile in the other dentist’s shoes before you judge their work.” (suburban North Carolina)
  • “I have seen a dentist criticize another’s work… only to have his look exactly the same on the x-ray.” (suburban North Carolina)



Lawyers are now part of the equation


  • “Lots of lawyers! You can no longer be truthful or you will pay.” (suburban New Jersey)



See complete results for this survey

The Wealthy Dentist Surveys


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