Children Dying – What You Need to Know About Your Dentist!

child at the dentist

Don’t schedule a dentist appointment for your child without reading this first!  Insufficiently trained dentists are putting children at risk – and more than a dozen children have died – by sedating them during routine tooth cleanings and cavity treatments, according to an ABC News investigation.

“Eight-year-old Raven Blanco died after her dentist, Dr. Michael Hechtkopf, gave her ‘three times the average range’ of sedatives, according to the Virginia Board of Dentistry.”

Dentists are increasingly using oral sedatives on children as young as 18-months old. The ABC News investigation discovered that some states only require “a weekend-long course for dentists to be certified in the administration of oral sedatives.”

That’s it – just one weekend-long course, and then they can sedate your child.

“’Who thinks that they’re gonna take their daughter to the dentist and never bring her home?’ said Ommettress Travis of Chicago, whose five-year-old daughter Diamond died after being sedated prior to have cavities filled and teeth capped.” 

The Illinois Board of Dentistry established that Diamond’s dentist used an “excessive dose of sedatives.”

These courses take place in local hotel ballrooms and promise dentists “tens of thousands of dollars” added to their bottom lines. “In the last five years, more than 18,000 dentists across the country have signed up for weekend-long courses in oral sedation.”

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry spokesperson said a weekend course “is ‘inadequate’ for preparing dentists to deal with emergencies that can arise through the use of oral sedatives.”

Today, I’m to set a dental appointment for my daughter; it’s been on my to-do list for weeks. Then I read this story and an anxiety I’d never before considered has been seeded into my brain. I wouldn’t have even thought to ask her dentist about his training in oral sedation, should she need it.

I just assume that the dentist should know what he is doing – right?

Well, knowledge is power. I will be asking a lot of questions at this appointment. And, I’m not even sure I’ll allow her to be sedated, if they suggest it, after learning of the associated dangers.

Will you? What do you think?

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Children Dying – What You Need to Know About Your Dentist!

Kimberly Shannon is a wife, a mother, an editor, a writer ... She is always working to find the perfect balance¹! After Kimberly received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism, she worked on two master’s degree programs (Creative Writing, and Marriage and Family Therapy). At various times in her life she has signed up to study Naturopathy, only to back out at the last minute, and humored the idea of returning full-time to the world of dance. Kimberly has also started 10 different children ... More

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81 comments

  1. nyanko says:

    my sons dentist only does sedation when necessary; and only in a hospital setting, with anesthesiologists administering it. he had to be sedated for a round of tooth work because he had too many issues with his teeth (because of genetic issues) and needed all of them capped but 4 and 1 pulled. they were still reluctant but felt it would put less strain on him than having to do everything separately. she had him do a pre op and everything before he was allowed to have the scheduled surgery to follow through. we love his dentist and would allow it again but i did do my research first.

  2. Corinna says:

    I always ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS do tons of research before going to a ANY doctor. I read reviews make sure that they are board certified i ask word by mouth i cant stress it enough look into your giving your care of your children to!

  3. Amanda says:

    Always bring your child to a board certified pediatric dentist! In the US the website to find a board certified dentist in your area is http://www.aapd.org. You simply place in your zip code and the website shows you board certified pediatric dentists in your area.
    A pediatric dentist has 2 additional years of training specifically for children and people of special needs. They also have to take multiple continuing education classes every year after passing their multiple step boards. Board certified pediatric dentists are the most skilled and knowledgeable about the oral health care needs of children.
    The best thing you can do for the oral health of your child is see a pediatric dentist by your child’s first birthday. Just like visiting the pediatrician, they will help you establish a routine that optimizes dental health and help you prepare for the next few months of dental milestones. If there is an issue it is far better and easier to catch it sooner than later. Pediatric dentists use multiple methods including things as simple as show tell do , to help have your child be an active participant. Most pediatric dentists have hospital privileges where, only if needed for the safety and dental health of your child, an anesthesiologist will administer anesthesia.
    Cavities are the #1 chronic disease of childhood. 5 x more common then asthma and 7 x more common then hay fever.
    As you may have figured out I am not only a mom and mom-to-be (27 weeks yeah!) but also a board certified pediatric dentist. I have seen so many children in pain due to dental infections, both at my office and the hospital emergency room. I have seen children with untreated dental infections, spread and block off airways as well as cause brain infections.
    So to all my moms and moms-to-be, start today… visit the aapd.org site and find a qualified pediatric dentist to establish a dental home where you feel comfortable and confident bringing your most cherished and loved little one!

  4. jean says:

    Sedation is not necessary for cavities/fillings at all.
    Took my toddler to the dentist for bottle rot and they had to do fillings and white caps on his two front and this all happened with just laughing gas. My son was fine. He laid there like a big boy and didn’t need to be restrained.
    Our dentist doesn’t use sedation. Too much of a liability.
    For all the parents out there a great book to read is “how to cure tooth decay” by Ramiel nagle, it talks about our dentists today and says how a lot of them do fillings that aren’t necessary when you can cure your decay by nutrition.

  5. Kesha says:

    this is scary stuff but im glad that i just learned some new info. i will be doing a lot of research before making my son’s first dentist appointment

  6. Phillip says:

    I have a 8 month old little boy that Medicaid wanted me to start taking to the dentist at 6 months old( he didnt even have 1 tooth at that time). Reading this article was very informative but scary all at the same time I couldn’t imagine if they had to sedate my 8 month old. It also makes me wonder how much training other Dr.s have… You can bet I’ll be doing alot more research and asking more questions. My heart and prayers got out to all families who had to experience this or any other tragedy!! Kayla

  7. Carli says:

    I know I done research on my kids’ dentist because this kind of thing… It’s always something to do but I’d also want an Anesthesiologist to do the sedative part if my children needed it!! My oldest has a rare heart condition so they have to have the Riley Hospital Dental area do his!

  8. Sherri says:

    For those who think it’s as simple as saying children shouldn’t need dental procedures if you take care of their teeth and watch their diet, it’s not always that simple. Some children have genetic disorders or other things that make having these and o ther types of procedures necessary. My son has bilateral cleft lip/palate and a condition of the teeth called ameliogensis (tooth enamel is weak and comes off easily). For my son and our family dental procedures and surgeries are a necessary and critical part of life. As a parent I don’t easily subject my child to sedation “to make things easier”. If I could I would trade places in an instant. Stop judging the parents you don’t know what the diagnosis is just the procedure itself. It’s the dentist, who is assuring the parents they are qualified to handle these medications who are to blame.

  9. Sherri says:

    I agree with previous comments, if my children need sedation for dental procedures it will be done in the hospital. Under the guidance of Anesthesiologists who are highly trained to handle these medications. Sedation is risky enough on its own without being put into the hands of improsperly trained people. And shame on those who would think it would be acceptable to risk the life of a child to line your pockets. If you are going to assume the responsibility to administer these medications, then it’s your responsibility to make sure you are properly trained. Going to a weekend seminar in a posh hotel doesn’t count.

  10. Sherri says:

    I agree with previous comments, if my children need sedation for dental procedures it will be done in the hospital. Under the guidance of Anesthesiologists who are highly trained to handle these medications. Sedation is risky enough on its own without being put into the hands of improperly trained people. And shame on those who would think it would be acceptable to risk the life of a child to line your pockets. If you are going to assume the responsibility to administer these medications, then it’s your responsibility to make sure you are properly trained. Going to a weekend seminar in a posh hotel doesn’t count.

  11. Kelly says:

    OMG do I want to take my 18 month old now his Dr. keeps telling me I need to take him I believe ill wait till he is 11 or 12 years old.

  12. Rachael says:

    My niece was sedated when she had cavities filled. She was 4 at the time. However, we went to the children’s hospital for the procedure, and they’ve treated thousands of children. The reason they sedate them is so they don’t have to be held down during the drilling and cleaning etc. My best friends daughter also got hers done at the same hospital. It is important to be careful. Anesthesia is always the most dangerous part of any procedure, and they really have to know what they’re doing.

  13. sheena says:

    thats why i dont take my kids untill there at least 10 but i also dont feed my kids candy surgar etc and i make my kids floss i might be a strict parent but i rather be strict then to lost a child to a dumb doctor that cant handle a little screaming are little crying

  14. Alyssa says:

    i think to calm my anxiety I will be in the room at every dentist appointment until ive gotten to know the dentist and his or her abilities.

  15. Gema says:

    I think this possibility can be avoided by just taking very good care of your child’s teeth. Watch their sugar intake and show them good oral hygiene habits. That way they will only need regular cleanings and fluoride treatments. \
    I worked in a dental office for a while but the dentists were not qualified to sedate. They could only use local numbing agents and anesthetics (shots) and some kids were honestly scared of the needles and had to be referred to a specialist that does sedation. Which is okay. But the person we referred to has nothing like this on their record. They specifically only treat children and unfortunately, most of the time, medicaid does not cover sedation! So like I said, take care of your child and help them not be afraid of needles and they will never need this

  16. why even let your child be sedated unless an extreme dental procedure is needed a cleaning or a cavity filled is no reason to be put under. My children’s dentist took them in for a basic routine checkup basically to meet the dentist and the child and then made the next appointment from there if they were comfortable enough they went ahead with the cleaning and check up and we were on our way. Also he had certificates around the office in what he was certified in.
    But we as parents can never be to sure and we have all the right to ask any questions we need answered.

  17. Krystal says:

    To start with why are they sedating the kids? I only ever got sedated once for a dental appt, I was three and they capped my teeth, in a hospital. My sister had four of her eye teeth/canines removed (yes four, from the top. She had two triple sets) without being sedated. The fact that they’re sedating them for something as simple as routine cleaning and cavity treatments seems odd to me. Deffinetly scary and something I’ll check for in the future.

  18. shelia says:

    Well, that is why I take my kids to an older dentist that I trust. He was my dentist as a child. I feel sorry for that sweet child and his family. This makes me very sad.

  19. christel says:

    I think that why would you even consider sedating a child for dental procedures,if you start teeth care early enough than I dont believe the child will have all of these illnesses to their teeth and gums, and also a healthy diet,I have a 13 month old that will never be sedated until later in life.I think that money is power now a days and the dentist,doctors and any other physicians are about promoting these horrible acts on babies and small children due to not wanting to deal with a scared child,also they get their choice of what to do to bill your insurance companies so they get their cut.

  20. lekisha says:

    I will be doing more research on the dentist I take my kids to….thanks for the article

  21. heather says:

    That is horrible! My baby is 3 and I’m still not taking her. Her teeth r fine and there is no reason to go, especially after reading this.

  22. jessica says:

    wow see i will never let a dentist sedate my child for any reason, i would be too afraid of them never waking up.

  23. Vanessa says:

    This is why I taught my girls to actually like brushing their teeth, the only issue they’re gonna have or do is when they’re older, the dentist said both of them have backwards teeth when the time comes for that to happen….I’m definitely taking precautions

  24. stephanie says:

    my son has to have caps he has an apt on the 29th i told his pediatrician and he told me to make sure that there is an anesthesiologist that will be doing any sedation if not then don’t do it he said that the dentist isn’t equipped with the knowledge that a anesthesia doctor would be and to let him know so i will definitely be making sure to ask about who will be doing the sedating

  25. stephanie says:

    my son has to have caps he has an apt on the 29th i told his pediatrician and he told me to make sure that there is an anesthesiologist that will be doing any sedation if not then don’t do it he said that the dentist isn’t equipped with the knowledge that a anesthesia doctor would be and to let him know so i will definitely be making sure to aski about who will be doing the sedating

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