Requesting Your Dental Records

You have a right to request a copy of your dental records, just as you do any other health information collected by a provider. The first step is to call your dentist’s office and find out what information they have and what they need from you before they can release your records. 

Patient and dentist talking
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Your Right to Obtain Access to Your Dental Records

HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It's a law that helps ensure the privacy of your medical information.

All healthcare providers, health organizations, and government health plans that use, store, maintain, or transmit patient healthcare information are required to comply with HIPAA. Only small, self-administered health organizations are excluded from the law.

Thanks to HIPAA, you are the only person with the right to your dental and other medical records. Here are a few key points you should know:

  • You have the right to a copy of your record, not the original. The original belongs to your healthcare provider.
  • You can visit your dentist to ask in person, but many providers recommend asking in writing so both you and your provider have a record of your request. You may also be able to submit the request online through a secure patient portal.
  • Your provider cannot deny you a copy of your records if you have not paid for the services you've received. However, they might charge a fee for preparing and mailing the records.

Hard Copy vs. Electronic Records

There are two types of records: the "old-school" hard copy records and electronic medical records (EMRs). HIPAA was key in the development of EMR, which allows your medical information to be shared securely and easily.

Whether you should ask for a hard copy or an electronic copy depends on your needs and preferences. However, keep in mind that medical records can be hundreds of pages long. In that case, it might be easier to have them sent electronically. You might also drop off a USB drive that the files can be saved to.

What You Can Do With Your Dental Records

Once you have your dental records, HIPAA clearly defines what you can do from there. Here are a few things you're allowed to do:

  • Request a copy of your dental information for your own records
  • Request to have corrections made to your dental records
  • Ask how your information is being used and shared (if at all) and if your information was shared, for what specific purpose
  • Decide whether or not you want your health information shared with marketing agencies


You have a right to access and get copies of your medical records, and that includes the ones at your dentist. You will need to fill out some paperwork and possibly pay a small fee, depending on whether you want paper copies of your chart mailed to you or if you want to access them digitally.

Call your dentist’s office and find out what information they have and what they need from you before they can release your dental records. 

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Your rights under HIPAA.

  2. American Dental Association. Releasing dental records.

  3. American Dental Association. Copying and/or transferring records.

By Shawn Watson
Shawn Watson is an orthodontic dental assistant and writer with over 10 years of experience working in the field of dentistry.