Video: Girl in coma after dentist visit
updated 9/26/2006 4:30:03 PM ET 2006-09-26T20:30:03

One of the most e-mailed stories today is about a 5-year-old girl who is in a coma after a mishap in a dentist's chair.

The child, Diamond Browneridge, stopped breathing after she was given what her family says was too much sedation.  She was receiving fillings and caps on her front teeth.

The story raises many questions, especially for parents of young children making their first trips to the dentist.  What questions should you ask, and what do you need to know?

“The Most” asked Dr. John Bresler, a pediatric dentist with special training in anesthesia for children.

“The Most”: How big are the risks of giving anesthesia to kids?

Bresler: I tell the parents there are always risks any time you sedate kids. It could affect breathing and heart rate. Everyone I know (including my father who is a pediatric dentist and trained in the early ‘70s) uses a 'reversible' medication. That means it's medicine that goes away if you want it to. They've had this medication for 30 or 40 years.

“The Most”: Are there standard monitoring procedures to check vital signs?

Bresler: Typically we monitor blood pressure and pulse, no EKG because most kids are under light or moderate sedation in the office. If you use a deeper level of sedation, usually it's in hospital or the dentist will have special training.

“The Most”: Are dentists required to have emergency equipment in the event of a crisis like this?

Bresler: Absolutely. They are required to be by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.  All clinicians are and should be CPR certified.  In the state of Pennsylvania, if you provide sedation to those under 18, there's a rule you need to have pediatric life support equipment.

“The Most”: Do dentists who sedate kids have extra education?

Bresler: Yes, it's part of our program.  All specialty training, advanced training.

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