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What every dentist should know about emerging national standards

Dentistry Today has published an article describing the emerging national emergency standards for dental offices. The article provides an overview of the educational requirements and physical items necessary to fulfill the needs of a dental patient in that time period between the identification of a medical problem and the arrival of outside assistance. 

The emerging national standards are based on the The Six Links of Survival:

The educational requirements of the Six Links of Survival include:

  • Dentist training

  • Staff training

  • Mock practice drills 

The physical items include:

  • A written emergency plan

  • Emergency medications

  • Emergency equipment


The emerging standards also cover the six P’s of preparation for a medical emergency: 

  • Prevention: proper use of a medical history

  • Personnel: staffing requirements and task pre-assignments

  • Products: monitors, medications, and airway adjuncts

  • Protocols: office manuals to develop a planned response

  • Practice: ongoing training and review

  • Pharmaceuticals: having the proper medication on hand


Proposed National Emergency Standards include the physical items a dental office must have to properly respond to a medical emergency.

For example, all dental offices should keep the following medications on hand: 

  • One bottle of 25 aspirin (81-mg chewable tablets)

  • One albuterol inhaler

  • Nitroglycerin, either 0.4-mg tablets or spray

  • Two 50-mg/cc ampules of diphenhydramine

  • Two 1-mg/cc (1:1000) ampules of epinephrine

  • One box of 10 ammonia inhalants

  • One 10-count vial of 15-mg glucose tablets

  • One tube of instant glucose


The free Sample Mock Drill from AAFDO will cover five of the six preparation items in this list and a checklist to ensure you have the physical items needed.


If you don’t know how to respond to an emergency, and you haven’t drilled your responses to perfection, then when a pressurized emergency happens for real (and it is not a question of if, but when), you are going to sink to the level of your training, and you may lose a patient’s life.

Are you ready to accept that responsibility? Treat the need for preparation seriously if you want to prevent failures at multiple levels by preparing yourself and your team and reducing the potential for a catastrophic event.

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