CODE OF ETHICS
American Academy of Restorative Dentistry
Principle of Ethics and Code of Professional Conduct
Standards of Ethical Conduct for Members (Active, Associate, Life and Honorary)
The dental profession has long subscribed to a body of ethical statements developed primarily for the benefit of the patient. As a member of the profession, an Active, Associate, Life or Honorary Member of the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry must recognize responsibility not only to patients but also to society, to other health professionals and organizations, and to self.
The following are standards of ethical conduct that define the essentials of honorable behavior for all levels of membership of the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry (hereto referred to as “Member”).
- A Member shall be dedicated to providing competent oral health service with caring and compassion while showing respect for human dignity.
- A Member shall be honest with patients and colleagues and will appropriately report to Academy leadership those who are deemed to be incompetent or engaged in fraud or deception.
- A Member shall respect the rights of patients, of colleagues, of other health professionals, and will abide by the norms of society.
- A Member shall continue to study, apply, and seek truth in the advancement of scientific knowledge and to make relevant information available to patients, colleagues, and society.
- A Member shall responsibly participate in activities contributing to an improved profession, community, and society.
- A Member shall act in a fair, just, and equitable manner.
- A Member shall possess personal and professional integrity and act as a trustworthy and responsible citizen.
The core values represent a guide for ethical behavior for Members of the AARD and are the foundation from which the principles are derived. The core values collectively reflect the character, charter, and mission of the AARD. The AARD identifies the following as core values (stated in alphabetical order):
Patients have the right to determine what should be done with their own bodies and they must be given the opportunity for autonomous decision-making. Respect for patient autonomy affirms this dynamic in the doctor-patient relationship and forms the foundation for informed consent, for protecting patient confidentiality, and for upholding veracity. The patient’s right to self-determination is not, however, absolute. The dentist must also weigh benefits and harms, then inform and educate the patient of contemporary standards and options of oral health care.
Beneficence, often cited as a fundamental principle of ethics, is the obligation to benefit others or to “do good.” While balancing harms and benefits, the dentist seeks to minimize harms and maximize benefits for the patient. The dentist refrains from harming the patient by referring patients to those with specialized expertise when the dentist’s own skills are insufficient.
Non-malfeasance means to “do no harm.” The dentist should not provide ineffective treatments for patients as these offer risk with no benefit and thus have a chance of harming patients. In addition, dentists must not do anything that would purposely harm patients without the action being balanced by at-least-proportional benefit. Where this principle is most helpful is when treatment is balanced against beneficence. The risk of treatment (harm) must be balanced in light of the potential benefits. Ultimately, the patient must decide, but the dentist must advise, whether the potential benefits outweigh the potential harms. Elective treatments for cosmetic/esthetic purposes are especially likely to fall into this category. In short, the potential benefits must outweigh the risks or the potential long-term negative effects.
Compassion requires caring and the ability to identify with the patient’s overall well-being. Relieving pain and suffering is a common attribute of dental practice. Acts of kindness and an empathetic ear for the patient are all qualities of a caring, compassionate dentist.
The competent dentist is able to diagnose and treat the patient’s oral health needs and to refer when it is in the patient’s best interest. Maintaining competence requires continual self-assessment about the outcome of patient care and involves a commitment to lifelong learning. Competence in diagnosis, treatment decisions, and treatment, is the just expectation of the patient.
Integrity requires the dentist to behave with honor and decency. The dentist who practices with a sense of integrity affirms the core values and recognizes when words, actions or intentions are in conflict with one’s values and conscience. Professional integrity commits the dentist to upholding the profession’s Codes of Ethics and to safeguarding, influencing and promoting the highest professional standards.
Justice is often associated with fairness or giving to each his or her own due. Issues of fairness are pervasive in dental practice and range from elemental procedural issues such as who shall receive treatment first, to complex questions of who shall receive treatment at all. The just dentist must be aware of these complexities when balancing the distribution of benefits and burdens in practice.
Self-governance is a hallmark of a profession and dentistry will thrive as long as its members are committed to actively supporting and promoting the profession and its service to the public. The commitment to promoting oral health initiatives and protecting the public requires that the profession work as one for the collective best interest of society.
Dentists are challenged to practice within an increasingly complex cultural and ethnically diverse community. Conventional attitudes regarding pain, appropriate function, and esthetics may be confounded by these differences. Tolerance to diversity requires dentists to recognize that these differences exist and challenges dentists to understand how these differences may affect patient choices and treatment.
Veracity, often known as honesty or truth telling, is the bedrock of a trusting doctor-patient relationship. The dentist relies on the honesty of the patient to gather the facts necessary to form a proper diagnosis. The patient relies on the honesty of the dentist to be truthful so that truly informed decision-making can occur. Honesty and transparency in dealing with the public, colleagues, and self are equally important. As clinicians and educators we place a high value on transparency in all relationships. Transparency requires that all Members disclose all relationships with the healthcare industry (specifically and particularly with dental manufacturers) to our patients and any audience.
Aspirational Statements of the Core Values
The central aspiration of the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry is that all Members practice their profession in an ethical manner. The American Academy of Restorative Dentistry identifies the following as aspirational statements of the core values: (stated in alphabetical order)
A Member of the AARD recognizes the dignity and intrinsic worth of individuals and their right to make personal choices.
A Member of the AARD acts in the best interests of patients and society even when there is conflict with the dentist’s personal self-interest.
A Member of the AARD is sensitive to, and empathizes with, individual and societal needs for comfort and help.
A Member of the AARD strives to achieve the highest level of knowledge, skill, and ability within his or her capacity.
A Member of the AARD incorporates the core values as the basis for ethical practice and the foundation for honorable character.
A Member of the AARD treats all individuals and groups in a fair and equitable manner and promotes justice in society.
A Member of the AARD is committed to patient treatment, including elective treatment, that does no harm and where the potential benefit outweighs the potential risks, including long-term risks. Tooth structure should not be sacrificed for short-term esthetic benefit or for the sole economic benefit of the dentist.
A Member of the AARD is committed to involvement in professional endeavors that enhance knowledge, skill, judgment, and intellectual development for the benefit of society and of the dental profession.
A Member of the AARD values truthfulness as the basis for trust in personal and professional relationships.
Use of title: Active Member of the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry, Associate Member of the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry, Life Member of the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry or Honorary Member of the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry
Members may use the title “Active Member of the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry,” or alternatively “Associate Member of the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry,” “Life Member of the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry,” or “Honorary Member of the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry,” on letterhead, business cards, and in biographical summaries, provided this is done in a dignified and professional manner and is consistent with other provisions in the Code of Conduct.
The title shall not be used in the direct solicitation of patients or for strictly commercial purposes. Use of title on the Internet is permitted only in a biographical
summary on a dentist’s own Web site. If the title is used, it must appear on a page within the Web site that is strictly informational and not commercial in nature. The title is understood to be an honor, but not a degree. The membership in the AARD may be announced to the public in accord with guidance provided by the Executive Committee, but care must be taken to avoid any confusion in the minds of the public as to the honorary versus academic (such as a degree) aspects of Membership. Membership in the AARD should never be used to announce or infer that the Member possesses superior clinical skills to any colleague.
Adopted with permission from the American College of Dentists, “Core Values and Aspirational Code of Ethics” and the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry. The American College of Dentists is recognized for its leadership in the pursuit and support of ethical standards in dentistry