A dentist who is asked about a patient’s wisdom tooth in a public meeting will have to answer: “Yes.”
That’s the rule in the state of Michigan, but the rule doesn’t apply to all dentists.
In fact, there are rules that are so loose that they don’t apply at all.
The Washington Post reports that, at least in some parts of the state, public meetings don’t even require a dentist to say the word “yes.”
The rule is so loose, in fact, that the dentist who has the most experience in a particular area can just skip the question and ask, “I’d like to talk to you about your wisdom tooth,” and the dentist will be allowed to answer.
The practice of “wilful ignorance” is a catch-all term for a practice that is so extreme that even a dentist who specializes in the practice will not know whether a patient has a wisdom tooth or not.
In an email, a Dentist Association of Michigan spokesperson explained that it’s “an absolute rule that a dentist will never answer a question on the knowledge or lack thereof of a patient, regardless of the patient’s prior knowledge or belief.”
The state has strict rules against any form of deception.
Dental professionals are required to state their credentials to the public and to each other when discussing patients’ health and well-being.
But if a public official has an agenda and is trying to get a message across, they may not have to lie about it.
If a public office is asking a question, the rules say the dentist must tell the person who’s going to ask the question that the question is about their expertise and the answer may not be appropriate for them.
It is a form of honesty that can be extremely valuable for a public figure to know.
But it also may be a form the public does not appreciate, or is unwilling to believe, when the dentist is telling the truth.
The rule about “willful ignorance,” however, doesn’t have to be in the rules.
It’s not in the ethics code.
If a dentist is asked to answer a hypothetical question that could lead to a patient dying, or a death in a family, the dentist has to say that the answer is no, and then go on to explain that it would be better to leave the question unanswered.
The rules are vague enough that, in many cases, a dentist would be allowed by law to skip a question that’s relevant for the questioner, such as a question about the state’s Medicaid funding.
In practice, that’s not really an option for many dental offices in Michigan.
But it’s also not clear that a dentist is necessarily obligated to answer questions posed by people in public meetings, given that public officeholders can also ask questions.
In a blog post, a spokesperson for the Michigan Dental Association explained that the rule only applies to public meetings and meetings that involve public officials.
The rule applies to a dentist answering a question when answering questions in an official capacity and not a dentist in private practice.
Dentists who have experience in that field would not have the authority to skip questions posed in public office meetings, which the association said is because it is a part of the practice.
In addition, the association points out that there are certain procedures that dental professionals have to follow in a dental office to ensure that no patient in the office is hurt.
It also points out a few rules that apply to people who work for public offices, such that it is not appropriate for a dentist working for a state agency to answer the questions of a person who works for the same agency.
But even that doesn’t seem to apply to the rule about the public dentist answering questions.
In a response to a question from the Associated Press, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Michigan Attorney General’s Office clarified that the rules about public officeholder questions apply only to questions posed on public meeting-related websites and email.
In response to questions about whether the rule applied to a Dentists Association of Detroit dentist, the state Dental Assn.
said, “The dental profession has a long history of ensuring that it meets all of the applicable rules regarding the use of the public for its own benefit.
We have an extensive public interest regulation process in place to ensure the integrity of all of our public meetings.”