Written by attorney Robert B. Abtahi

Texas Dental Practice: Records Keeping


1. How long must a dental record be maintained on a patient?

SBDE Rule 108.8 states that a dentist must maintain records on a patient for at least 5 years from the last date that the dentist saw the patient. However, a dentist may determine that it is necessary to maintain the records of certain patients for a longer period of time. This is usually the case for minor patients.

The disposal of records held longer than 5 years must be done in a manner that preserves patient confidentiality (e.g. shredding, incineration as allowed by law, etc.).

2. Do patients have a right to obtain a copy of their dental record and can a dentist charge for copying the records?

Yes, and yes. SBDE Rule 108.8 requires a dentist to provide a patient a copy of the patient’s dental record within (30) days of the patient’s request for a dental record copy. SBDE Rule 108.8 also sets out the maximum amount a dentist may charge for the records. SBDE Rule 108.8 can be found on the Board’s website located at

3. Can a dentist withhold a patient’s dental records because of an unpaid balance?

No, a dentist cannot withhold a patient’s records on the basis that the patient has an unpaid balance for dental services. The dentist may pursue all legal methods to collect an unpaid balance including collections and civil court actions. The dentist can also charge the patient copying costs for patient records as outlined in SBDE Rule 108.8 and may withhold patient records until all copying costsare paid by the patient.

4. Do I need to notify the SBDE if I transfer my dental records to another dentist who is taking over my practice?

Yes, SBDE Rule 108.8(e) requires notice to be provided to the SBDE within 15 days of transferring dental records to another dentist if you are leaving the practice location and will not be personally maintaining your patient records.

5. Where can I find information on theHealth Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?

HIPAA is a federal statute that addresses many wide ranging issues with regard to the portability of insurance and the privacy of patient records. Please contact the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas Department of Insurance for additional information. The following websites contain helpful information regarding HIPAA:

Additional resources provided by the author

DISCLAIMER: The following frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) are current as of May 2006. These FAQ’s constitute current policy of the SBDE and are subject to change at any time without notice. The reader is advised to consult a current version of the dental practice act (DPA) and the SBDE’s Rules before pursuing a course of action based upon these FAQ’s. No attorney-client relationship is created by the provision of these FAQ’s. Readers are advised to consult their own personal legal counsel regarding any issue addressed by these FAQ’s.

Free Q&A with lawyers in your area

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer