Dentists have a legal and ethical obligation to obtain their patients’ informed consent prior to the start of treatment. This means discussing the proposed treatment and sharing risks and other information before the patient agrees to proceed.
These discussions also include information about treatment costs. The Ontario Dental Association publishes a suggested fee guide for Ontario dentists. Dentists must tell patients if they intend to charge fees that are above the fees listed in the guide.
Estimates should include the cost of additional expense of materials (at cost) and laboratory fees (at cost), when applicable, and any additional treatment. Dentists may provide estimates that include a range of low and high costs.
In complex cases, they may discuss the costs of subsequent treatment.
Patients can and should ask questions to fully understand the proposed treatment and its associated costs. You may need to book a separate appointment to discuss the fees associated with a complex treatment plan.
A dentist should only proceed with treatment once informed consent is obtained. If a dentist determines that an alteration to the treatment plan is necessary during treatment, while the patient is in the chair, the dentist should explain the additional costs and confirm that the patient, parent or substitute decision maker agrees before proceeding.
Dentists should be clear, open and upfront about the actual costs that are involved with any treatment plan. If you have dental coverage and want predetermination of coverage, the dental office may prepare it for you. The office may discuss payment of costs or services not covered by insurance plans.