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The Virginia Dental Association (VDA) is a non-profit organization of dentists committed to enhancing the professional lives of our members - 3,500 of the best and brightest dentistry has to offer.  Together, we champion better oral health care for all Virginians.

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ADA Update

Clarification: ADA Sedation and Anesthesia Guidelines

It has come to the attention of the Council on Dental Education and Licensure that there is confusion and misinformation being promulgated among our communities regarding the revised ADA Sedation and Anesthesia Guidelines documents. As you know, the 2016 ADA House of Delegates approved revisions to the Guidelines for the Use of Sedation and General Anesthesia by Dentists and the Guidelines for Teaching Pain Control and Sedation to Dentists and Dental Students. The Guidelines are posted on the ADA website here. Apparently dental boards and dentists are receiving communications alluding to a nonexistent “grandfather clause” noted in the Guidelines for the Use of Sedation and General Anesthesia by Dentists.

To be clear, there is no such grandfather clause in the ADA Sedation and Anesthesia Guidelines. The document specifically states:

“Dentists must comply with their state laws, rules and/or regulations when providing sedation and anesthesia and will only be subject to Section III. Educational Requirements as required by those state laws, rules and/or regulations.”

The Guidelines clearly state 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. However, unless promulgated into state law, the ADA’s Guidelines are only that — guidelines.

Please note one additional point. The ADA Sedation and Anesthesia Guidelines have been updated 5 times in the past thirteen years. If your state law refers to the 2003, 2005, 2007 or 2012 ADA Sedation and Anesthesia Guidelines, those versions are superseded by the 2016 Guidelines for the Use of Sedation and General Anesthesia by Dentists. We urge you to consider updating your references accordingly.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Please contact Dr. Jill Price, chair of the Council on Dental Education and Licensure (CDEL), via Ms. Karen Hart, director of CDEL ( or 312.440.2825) if you have any further questions.

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