Death, Greed at the Dentist: American Children at Risk


"Pain-free dentistry can means tens of thousands of dollars of extra income in your pocket annually, and as much as half a million extra in your pocket at retirement," wrote Dr. Michael Silverman, a dentist who runs a company that offers weekend-long training sessions for dentists in the use of oral sedation.

A national spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Indru Punwani of the University of Illinois, said a weekend course is "inadequate" for preparing dentists to deal with emergencies that can arise through the use of oral sedatives.

"I don't believe it can be done," said Dr. Punwani of the promise of the popular weekend courses to train dentists.

Dentists following the sedation guidelines of the AAPD have never been tied to a death, said Dr. Punwani.

Dr. Silverman declined to be interviewed by ABC News, but in a written response said, "Everyone who has attended and completed any of our DOCS Education courses knows that safety is by far our top concern and emphasis."

The program brochure says of its single dose sedation course: "Give us three days, and we'll teach you both adult and pediatric protocols -- serving patients from ages 5 to 95 -- that you can take home and implement immediately."

In its brochure, the program also recommends but does not require dentists to also enroll in a separate "pediatric advanced life support" course.

This ABC News investigation began after a woman who said she was the grandmother of a young girl who died after an overdose of sedation at the dental office contacted Brian Ross through The Blotter Tip Line. If you have or someone you know has a story that could add to this investigation, contact the Brian Ross Unit by CLICKING HERE.

An earlier version of this report attributed the finding concerning the amount of sedatives given to Raven Blanco to the Virginia Dentistry Board, which only reported the findings of the medical examiner in their investigative documents. The actual autopsy report was the work of the medical examiner.

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