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FAQs - Consumers

Frequently Asked Questions for Consumers

How do I find a dentist?
  • ​​​Ask family, friends, neighbors or co-workers for recommendations. 
  • Ask your family physician or local pharmacist. 
  • If you are moving, your current dentist may be able to make a recommendation. 
  • The Oregon Dental Association’s website at has a "Find A Dentist" section of its members that is very user-friendly. 
  • Use the American Dental Association’s Member Directory at 
  • Comparison shop. You may want to call or visit more than one dental office before making a decision since dental care is a very personalized service that requires a good relationship between the dentist and the patient. If you are comparing fees, ask for estimates on full-mouth x-rays and a preventive dental visit that includes an oral exam and tooth cleaning.


​During your first visit, you should be able to determine if this is the right dental office for you. Consider the following: 

  • ​Is the appointment schedule convenient for you? 
  • Is the office easy to get to from your home or job? 
  • Does the office appear to be clean, neat and orderly? Are infection control procedures in place? The dental care staff should use "universal precautions" such as gloves, mask and appropriate protective garb and routinely sterilize and disinfect instruments and the work area to protect against spreading infectious diseases. 
  • Was your medical and dental history recorded and placed in a permanent file? (This record should be updated periodically. On subsequent visits, be sure to tell your dental provider if there are any changes in your medical history or medications since your last visit.) 
  • Does the dentist use a dental hygienist in the practice? 
  • Does the dental staff adequately explain techniques that will help you prevent dental health problems? Are your questions answered fully and to your satisfaction? 
  • Are special arrangements made for handling emergencies outside of office hours? (Most dentists make arrangements with a colleague or emergency referral service if they are unable to tend to emergencies.) 
  • Is information provided about fees and payment plans before treatment is scheduled? 
  • Verify the license of a prospective dentist and check his or her discipline history. You can do this by calling the Board of Dentistry at 971-673-3200 during the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday or by visiting our website and selecting the 'License Verification​' link on the top of our home page.    

You and your dentist are partners in maintaining your oral health. Take time to ask questions and take notes if that will help you remember the dentist´s or dental hygienist’s advice or instructions.   

Many dental offices offer to interact with your dental insurance company on your behalf in obtaining pre-authorization and verifying coverage. However, it is always the responsibility of the patient to know her or his benefit plan and to pay for dental services that have been provided that are in excess of the amount covered by insurance.


​If the dentist makes recommendations for treatment, don’t be afraid to ask for more information. 

  • ​Are other treatment options available? How do the options differ in cost? Which solutions will last the longest? Do all the options solve the problem? 
  • Among the dentist’s recommendations, which treatments are absolutely necessary? Which are elective? Which are cosmetic? Which procedures are urgently needed and which ones are less urgent? 
  • Ask for a written treatment plan before you agree to treatment. Most treatment plans should suggest alternative treatment options. When extensive or major dental work is proposed, such as implants, crowns, or bridges, seeking a second or even a third opinion may be appropriate. 
  • How much will the proposed treatment cost? What method of payment does the dentist accept? 

Check with your insurance company or managed care plan about the services covered and the amount it will reimburse for the treatment.  Your dentist can submit a "Pretreatment Plan" for the insurer's review.  The insurer will inform you of the costs that will be reimbursed under your particular plan.

If you need a specialist, ask your general dentist for a referral. Ask if the specialist is board certified or board eligible in the speciality.


​Board regulations require that a licensee provide copies of a patient’s records, including x-rays, within 14 days of written request made by the patient or patient’s guardian. (OAR 818-012-0030(9)(a) & OAR 818-012-0032). 

Physical records include silver emulsion radiographs, physical study models, paper charting and chart notes: 

The Licensee may require payment in advance that is reasonably calculated to cover the costs of making the copies or duplicates. The dentist may charge a fee not to exceed $30 for copying 10 or fewer pages of written material and no more than $0.50 per page for pages 11 through 50 and no more than $0.25 for each additional page plus any reasonable clerical costs incurred in the duplication of paper records. The dentist may charge the actual cost of duplicating x-rays. A dentist may not withhold these records because of any prior unpaid bills, except in the case of study models and radiographs if the study models and radiographs have not previously been paid for. 

Digital records include any patient diagnostic image, study model, test result or chart record in digital form.

The Licensee may require the patient or patients guardian to pay for the typical retail cost of the digital storage device, such as a CD, thumb drive, or DVD as well as associated postage.  The Licensee shall not charge any patient or patient's guardian to transmit requested digital records over email if total records do not exceed 25Mb.  The Licensee may charge up to $5.00 for duplication of digital records up to 25Mb and up to $30.00 for more than 25Mb.  Duplicate digital records shall be of same quality as the original digital file. ​​


​Assistance programs vary. We recommend that you contact your local dental society to see if they know of any programs in your local area. The Oregon Dental Associations Website has a listing as well. You can visit their Community Access page by following this link. ODA Community Access Page.  

There is also a clinic at the Oregon Health and Science University, School of Dentistry, located in Portland that provides reduced fee care (503-494-8867).  

For those with exceptional need, you may consider contacting 'Exceptional Needs Dental Services'. Services are limited to client who are non-ambulatory or have a severe developmental disability or a mental impairment. Please call 800-644-1859 for further information or visit their website at​

The decision when to take or not to take radiographs is the responsibility of an Oregon licensed Dentist or an Expanded Practice Permit Dental Hygienist and is based on factors including the patient’s oral health, patient’s age, the risk for disease and any sign or symptoms of oral disease that a patient may be experiencing.

The Board does not have a time requirement for how often radiographs or X-rays are to be taken. So if your Dentist says we (the Board) require X-rays every year, that is not true. The Dentist is the one who decides if the radiographs are needed, not the patient. They are an important diagnostic tool and it is the responsibility​ of the treating Dentist to determine how often they are needed.

For further information, please review the following document: