If you don’t need to go to a hospital or facility for a surgery or other such procedure, naturally you’d want to know what are the qualifications of the medical professionals involved on your care. What are their qualifications? How many times have they performed this procedure? Where did they get their training? What continuing education do they attend? Another area of concern would also be to find out what the capabilities of the facility or medical/dental practice is.
Regarding the dental practice, some basics- a dental practice is a facility or office staffed by a medical professional(s) who are physicians trained in oral health. Two common post nominals for dentists are DDS (Doctor of Dental Surgery) and DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine). There are some slight differences in their training, but the American Dental Association (ADA) considers them the same.
Sedation and general anesthesia are a continuum, it is not always possible to determine ahead of time how each patient will respond. Dentists intending to produce a given level of sedation should be able to determine and manage the any physiologic complications for patients whose level of sedation becomes deeper than initially intended.1 A good history & relevant physical exam are a must.
For all levels of sedation, referred by the ADA as:
- Deep Sedation/General Anesthesia
Recommended Training & Qualifications
The qualified dentist must have the training, skills, drugs and equipment to identify and manage such an occurrence until either assistance arrives (emergency medical service) or the patient returns to the intended level of sedation without airway or cardiovascular compromise.
Included amongst these training & skills are Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) and Basic Life Support (BLS). Dentists are also required to protect their patients’ welfare by only assigning to qualified assistants (hygienists, dental assistants, etc.) those duties which can be legally delegated. As such, it is logical to require that BLS and ACLS certifications be current for those assistants.
Dentists are also obliged to supervise the patient care provided by all auxiliary personnel working under their direction. This is similar to the working relationship between a physician (MD or DO) and a physician assistant or nurse practitioner. The number of people present, each individual’s level of training, equipment, as well as proximity of personnel both pre- and post-procedure varies according to the level of sedation.2,3 The dentist should also be aware that there may different regulatory requirements that must be met. These vary from state to state.
Each patient should investigate the qualifications of his/her dental provider. Do the research, get some reviews from reputable sources such as professional associations. And remember, there is NOTHING wrong with getting a second opinion. Ask questions until you are satisfied with & comfortable with that dental provider taking care of you or your loved one.
1. Adapted from: Guidelines for the Use of Sedation and General Anesthesia by Dentists. (2016). American Dental Association Guidelines, 1–15. http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Education%20and%20Careers/Files/ADA_Sedation_Use_Guidelines.pdf
2. Guidelines for the Use of Sedation and General Anesthesia by Dentists. (2016). American Dental Association Guidelines, 3. http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Education%20and%20Careers/Files/ADA_Sedation_Use_Guidelines.pdf
3. American Dental Association. (2020, November). ADA Principles of Ethics and Code of Conduct. https://www.ada.org/en/about-the-ada/principles-of-ethics-code-of-professional-conduct