(NEW YORK) — As detailed in a report on Thursday’s Nightline, an ABC News investigation found that American children are being put at risk by inadequately trained dentists who often seek to enhance profits by sedating their young patients for even routine tooth cleaning and cavity treatments.
There is no national registry of dental deaths, but according to the Raven Maria Blanco Foundation, more than a dozen children have died after being sedated by dentists. Some experts say many deaths go unreported or are never officially tied to dental sedation.
To lessen the risk for young patients, the American Dental Association has prepared the following list of questions that parents and guardians should ask about sedation or anesthesia for children.
Questions to Ask Your Dentist about Anesthesia and Sedation for Your Child
The ADA offers the following questions that parents and guardians should ask concerning in-office sedation or general anesthesia for their children provided either by the dentist or by a separate sedation/anesthetic practitioner in that dental office. The ADA recommends talking to your dentist about any concerns you might have about the treatment plan prior, during and after the procedure:
Prior to the procedure:
During the procedure:
After the procedure:
For more information on oral health topics for you or your family, please visit the American Dental Association’s website www.MouthHealthy.org
The Raven Maria Blanco Foundation, which seeks to alert parents to the potential dangers of the use of oral sedatives on young patients, has its own recommended sedation checklist for parents. CLICK HERE for the foundation’s “Pediatric Dental Care Checklist.”
The foundation is named for 8-year-old Raven Blanco of Chesapeake, Virginia, who died after her dentist, Dr. Michael Hechtkopf, gave her “three times the average range” of sedatives, according to the Virginia Board of Dentistry.
The dentist had his license restricted for three months and was ordered to complete seven hours of continuing education in record keeping and risk management. He has since retired.
A lawyer for Dr. Hechtkopf said the dentist “regretted” what happened.
Raven’s parents, Robin and Mario Blanco, set up the foundation in their daughter’s name to urge dentists to be better prepared for emergencies and to warn parents that what happened to their daughter could happen to others.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Carina Storrs Special to CNN