Imagine taking your child for a routine dental checkup and not being able to take her back home because she dies after being sedated by her dentist. That's what happened to 8-year-old Raven Blanco who died after her dentist gave her "three times the average range" of sedatives, according to the Virginia Board of Dentistry. And she's not the only one.

According to her parents, who started the Raven Maria Blanco Foundation more than a dozen children have also died in the hands of dentists who have sedated them despite not having the proper training. Since there's no national registry of dental deaths, experts say the numbers are probably higher. 

Read more in ¿Qué más?: I might lose my teeth for not wearing a night guard!

So, how and why is this happening? Some dentists tend to suggest sedation to the parents of their young patients because the kids' anxiety can make it difficult to perform routine procedure--where high speed drills are needed--on them. But the reasons can also be monetary as dentists apparently get paid a lot more money when they sedate their patients. 

Learning to administer sedation in a safe manner and be prepared to deal with any type of emergency takes extensive training. The problem, though, is that many dentists--more than 18,000 across the country in the last 5 years--are getting their training in oral sedation in weekend-long courses set up in local hotel ballrooms. 

I've been taking my daughter Vanessa to the same pediatric dentist since she was about 3 years old. Since she's never had any major issues--just routine check-ups where her teeth are cleaned and we get to go home--I've never been told that she needs to be sedated. But after hearing about Raven Blanco and the other kids who've died at the dentist, you better believe I'd be extremely cautious if my daughter's dentist suggests sedation. 

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If your child's dentist ever suggests sedation, ask what kind of training he has and how he would deal with an emergency. Or visit the Raven Maria Blanco Foundation for other questions you should ask your child's dentist before sedation. 

Did you know this was happening? Has your child's dentist ever suggested sedation? Share your thoughts with us by leaving us a comment below. 

Image via 807MDSC/flickr

About the author

Roxana A. Soto is Features Editor for MamásLatinas. She's a bilingual and bicultural journalist born in Peru and raised in Mexico, Argentina, South Africa and Miami. She's also mom to a girl in 3rd grade and a boy in Kinder. She loves books, languages, traveling and good food – especially when cooked by someone else.

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