Keeping Kids Safe At The Dentist

A 5-year-old girl is on life support after, her relatives say, she was given three different sedatives over the weekend during what was supposed to be a routine dental visit.

Diamond Brownridge's mother took her to a Chicago dental clinic to have two cavities filled and caps placed on several teeth. But after the procedure, Diamond never woke up. She's now on life support.

Editor's note: Diamond passed away Wednesday.

When a child needs dental work, what can a parent do to keep that child as safe as possible? The Early Show sought answers from Dr. Edward Fisher, a pediatric dentist in New York who has been practicing for 30 years.

Dr. Fisher told co-anchor Harry Smith the first thing is "absolutely" to use a pediatric dentist because they "are the most trained to deal with children at all levels. We have a comfort zone, we give children a place to be by themselves where they're not expected to be little adults, they're expected to be little children."

Should parents be in the room during the procedure?

"When I trained, the most difficult portion of dentistry was, 'Should the parent be allowed in?' But it's changed. I've always allowed parents in."

Dr. Fisher assured viewers that situations like Diamond's are "really rare. It just doesn't happen. The only time we ever see it … is when it's sensationalized. In this particular situation, I don't know the information, but it just doesn't happen. We've been doing this for 30 years. It's never happened in my office and that I know of in this area."

Most dentists' offices, and particularly pediatric dentists' offices, are "absolutely" prepared for emergencies, Dr. Fisher said: "We have an emergency kit. We have a plan in action that all I have to do is say one word to my staff, they are called. They call 911. Everybody moves into action. The kid is there. The oxygen is there. Everything is ready to go, and the whole staff is trained with CPR.

As for what questions parents should ask of pediatric dentists when trying to make sure they have a good one, Dr. Fisher recommends that you "have a comfort zone. You walk in, and you will know. Ask, not of the dentist, ask of the staff, 'Do you have a plan? Do you know what to do?' The dentist does, but you have to make sure the staff is trained, too, because the dentist will concentrate on any emergency that occurs. But the rest of the staff has to know (what to do). Someone has to call 911, someone has to make sure the oxygen is there, someone has to make sure the emergency kit is there, someone has to be there with you on the phone, as needed."

Ask those questions as soon as you walk in the door for the first time, Dr. Fisher urges: "'Are you ready? Are you prepared to deal with an emergency my child may have?' If the answer is, 'Well, let me go look,' walk out."