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Letters: Anesthesiology

February 20, 2012

Recently, the American Dental Association’s Council on Dental Education and Licensure urged the independent Commission on Dental Accreditation to consider bolstering the educational standards of numerous pre- and postdoctoral training programs in the area of anesthesia and sedation. Specifically, CDEL’s Committee on Anesthesiology was concerned about the amount of experience and training to competency in sedation for various disciplines and seeks to improve training and ultimately, patient safety. Although CODA’s response is yet to be released, the ADA should be applauded in its proactive efforts to ensure safe patient outcomes and improved competencies in training future generations of dentists. Recognition that dentistry as a whole needs to continually reaffirm its obligation to provide services in a safe, anxiety- and pain-free environment for all segments of our population underscores the mission and message of the American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists.

We are at a time in which dentistry has been rapidly thrust into the forefront of interdisciplinary efforts and advanced surgical and treatment modalities while under both public and professional scrutiny. The advancement of our sedation and anesthesia techniques must match this pace; the educational burden should continue to rest squarely upon those who have been at the forefront of this responsibility for many years.

Dentist anesthesiologists, those dentists who have received extensive postdoctoral residency training in anxiety and pain control, have continually led the profession in authoring texts; conducting dental anesthesia research; and instructing students in various local anesthesia, moderate sedation and general anesthesia programs, and courses in the management of medical emergencies. Most recently, the ADA Recognition and Management of Complications During Minimal and Moderate Sedation course involved many from the dental anesthesia community who also share this forward-looking viewpoint.

Concurrently, the ADA is reviewing the American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists’ application for Recognition of Anesthesiology as a Dental Specialty, and it could not come at a more relevant time in our professional development and growth.

To ensure dentistry’s dynamic growth in this vital discipline and to secure continued educational reach in the area of anesthesiology for all disciplines, dentistry itself must recognize dental anesthesiology as a specialty area. ASDA members are uniquely poised to address these concerns in both the overall clinical and educational dental arenas. The time is now to recognize anesthesia as a dental specialty.

The CDEL directive has set in motion a series of events that will ultimately result in improved safety for our patients and a directed effort to raise the educational bar for all providers of dental care. Let us set a firm foundation in dental anesthesiology now for future practitioners and their patients.

Michael Mashni, D.D.S.
American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists
Vienna, Va.