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Regulatory FAQ > General FAQ Questions > How long are dental offices required to keep patient’s records?

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Both the state and federal governments have laws on healthcare record retention, but the federal law supersedes the state law. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requires that all dental records be kept for at least six years after the patient’s last visit.

 Although the law only requires patients’ records be retained for six years, some liability experts recommend that dentist keep records longer. A rule of thumb that is commonly used is the “6-10-21 years” rule, which suggests that dentists keep patients records at the following durations: six years after the death of a patient, 10 years after a patient’s last appointment if you are no longer their dentist, and 21 years from the date of a patient’s birth if you stop seeing that patient when they’re still a minor.