Hawaii Increases Restrictions on Sedation Dentistry

A beautiful Hawaiian Sunset

This month, new rules about sedation dentistry went into effect in Hawaii. Called “Finley’s Law,” the new regulations were enacted in response to the death of a three-year-old boy who was sedated for dental procedures.

Although Hawaii is the first to pass such restrictive requirements on dental sedation, the response to numerous child deaths related to dentistry means that more states may enact similar laws.

Hawaii’s New Rules

In Hawaii, all dentists are now required to get certified to perform moderate (conscious) sedation. This is the most common form of sedation dentistry, typically administered as a pill. This certification requires that dentists have 60 hours of training in sedation and must perform 20 supervised cases before they are allowed to offer the service. In addition, they must have clinical experience managing a compromised airway and provide current documentation in advanced life support.

Those provisions went into effect in 2014, but the new law adds even more requirements for dentists to offer sedation dentistry. Now dentists that want to offer general anesthesia, deep sedation, or moderate sedation must:

  • Display contact information for the consumer resource center, where patients can check a doctor’s certification.
  • Dentists must prove that they meet the requirements for their education, facilities, and staff before requesting a permit
  • Permits must be renewed every two years, and they can be revoked at any time by the dental board
  • The dental board must perform an on-site inspection of the dentist’s facilities, equipment, and personnel to make sure they meet requirements

Although these rules go into effect now, the board of dental examiners has until July 1 of next year to enact its own rules that bring the law into force.

Sedation Can Be Dangerous

Although sedation dentistry can be administered safely, Hawaii’s rules are a strong recognition that sedation dentistry can also be dangerous. Before administering sedation, dentists need to be trained in the proper administration of sedation, and they also need to be able to respond in the case of an emergency.

This means that dentists and others in the dental office have to be trained in the common adverse events related to sedation dentistry. They need to be able to recognize the signs of respiratory distress and be able to respond. They also need to have the equipment to provide the life-saving services that patients need.

Hawaii’s rules are a recognition that this hasn’t always been thoroughly observed by dental practices, and that in the future we need to do a better job of assessing risks and avoiding them.

NuCalm Is a Safer Approach

But perhaps one of the things dentists need to do is to learn other ways to control dental anxiety instead of sedation dentistry.

NuCalm is a drug-free approach to relaxation dentistry, and it is extremely safe. With hundreds of thousands of procedures performed, there has not been a single documented adverse effect from NuCalm. That’s because NuCalm utilizes a natural approach to relaxation that utilizes your body’s own relaxation mechanisms, rather than trying to overpower them.

If you want to learn more about this alternative to sedation dentistry, please contact a local Nucalm dentist today.