No patient should die in the dental office. With few exceptions, deep sedation and general anesthesia for dentistry is performed in the office-based environment on patients without significant medical compromise while moderate sedation is provided for a wider range of patients. Those patients with undue risks are routinely referred to a hospital or surgery center, so patient deaths in the dental office should be exceptionally rare.

Yet in mid-July, a story involving the death of a dental patient circulated throughout the national news, sadly marking the second such report that month. Consistent with most initial news releases covering these types of incidents, the article shared only sparse information centered on second- and third-hand accounts, leading to ample speculation among professionals and the public alike. Little could be gained in terms of appreciating any likely causes or contributing factors. It was not even clear if the anesthesia provider was a dentist,...

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