I have to find a dentist. Normally, I get my teeth looked after by our local hygiene school. They’re thorough and do a good job. But, if an issue pops up you have to go to a dentist. I’ve never had an issue pop up so never really worried about it. But, that all changed at my last appointment. I need to get a tooth looked after and they said it could be saved with a crown, but I need to be prepared for the fact that it will likely need to be extracted. I’m quite afraid of the dentist. I realize that you probably consider that silly. But, I keep seeing stories like this one where people die from sedation. How can I be sure the dentist won’t kill me?
Stephanie – Boston
It’s not silly to be afraid of the dentist. In fact, many patients are. Sedation dentistry has done a lot to help with that. But, when you have tragedies, such as the one suffered by that little boy, it can make frightened patients more frightened.
My understanding of that case is the dentist wasn’t certified, though for certain types of sedation that’s not required. However, he also gave a significantly excessive dose of sedative drugs to the child, well above the recommendation. I was appalled when I realized how much medicine he gave that preschooler.
So, how do you prevent such a tragedy from happening to yourself?
When you’re looking for the best dentist in this type of situation, the first thing I’d ask is whether or not the dentist is DOCS certified (The Dental Organization for Conscious Sedation). You’ll also want to be certain your vital signs are monitored at all times. There should be a separate person doing this, not the dentist. He or she will be too busy with the procedure to give your vitals adequate attention.
Additionally, it would be great if the dentist and their staff are ACLS certified (Advanced Cardiac Life Support). In any medical procedure there are risks, whether there’s sedation or not. Every medical professional should be prepared for the worst-case scenarios in order to give their patients the best care possible.
Hopefully, a crown will be available to you. An extraction should always be a last resort.
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