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Council counters confusion, misinformation on revised sedation, anesthesia guidelines

March 06, 2017

By Kimber Solana

The Council on Dental Education and Licensure reminded state dental societies and dental boards on March 3 that state dental boards and legislatures ultimately make policies regarding sedation and anesthesia.

The council sent a clarification email to state dental societies and dental boards after it learned that dental board members and dentists were receiving notices alluding to a nonexistent "grandfather clause" in the Guidelines for the Use of Sedation and General Anesthesia by Dentists.

"It has come to the attention of [CDEL] that there is confusion and misinformation being promulgated among our communities regarding the revised ADA sedation and anesthesia documents," the email from the council said. "To be clear, there is no such grandfather clause in the ADA sedation and anesthesia guidelines."
One circulating message, according to the council, falsely states that the new guidelines would require dentists to take additional courses to be "fully credentialed." The message then mentions a nonexistent grandfather clause — claiming that dentists who complete training under the previous guidelines won't need to undergo additional training — to encourage dentists to sign up for costly training programs to meet previous guidelines.
The council said in its email that the guidelines document specifically states that oversight of sedation and anesthesia practice is the responsibility of state dental boards and state legislatures.

"The ADA is honored that the laws and regulations in many states reference the ADA guidelines," the CDEL email said. "However, unless promulgated into state law, the ADA's guidelines are only that — guidelines."
The ADA House of Delegates voted at its October 2016 meeting to adopt revisions to the guidelines concerning the use of sedation and anesthesia by dentists and teaching sedation and anesthesia to dentists and dental students.

The revisions included recommended changes to end-tidal CO2 monitoring during moderate and deep sedation and general anesthesia unless precluded or invalidated by the nature of the patient, procedure or equipment; alterations in course duration and other competency statements for moderate sedation education courses; and a number of editorial updates.

It was the fifth time in the past 13 years that the guidelines have been updated. If a state's law refers to the 2003, 2005, 2007 or 2012 guidelines, those versions are superseded by the 2016 Guidelines for the Use of Sedation and General Anesthesia by Dentists. The council said it urges those states to consider updating their references accordingly.

For more information on the guidelines, contact Karen Hart, CDEL director, at or 1-312-440-2825. To download the 2016 guidelines, go to