ADA Now Recognizes Dental Anesthesiology as a Specialty

Michael W. Davis, DDS


The ADA has officially recognized dental anesthesiology as a dental specialty, according to a letter from Charles H. Norman, DDS, chair of the National Commission on Recognition of Dental Specialties and Certifying Boards, to James Tom, DDS, MS, president of the American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists (ASDA).

“Our work in providing sedation and anesthesia care, education, and awareness has always been validated by our patients and with our colleagues who utilize our services in dental practice,” said Tom, pleased with the hard-won validation from the ADA.  

“Having the ADA recognize the specialty of dental anesthesiology validates to us that the larger community of dental professionals is ready to learn more about sedation and anesthesia, practice to a higher standard, and be committed to treat patients that otherwise could not be treated in traditional dental practice,” Tom said.

Tom also noted the efficacy of various legal actions that the ASDA has taken against state dental boards. 

“Legal action at state dental boards certainly drove awareness of dental anesthesiology and legitimate and extensive pathways of specialized training to the forefront of regulators in the profession,” Tom said.

“Without these challenges to the status quo, dentistry would still remain the same as it has ever been without any meaningful change and self-reflection as to its obligation to treat patients from a wide variety of healthcare needs,” Tom said.

Patient morbidity and mortality related to lesser trained and credentialed providers has been one of the ASDA’s concerns.

“We are always saddened with any tragic news concerning dental treatment or oral conditions, and the instances of morbidly and mortality are firm reminders that we have much work to do in improving safety whenever patients undergo dental treatment,” Tom said.   

“What’s just as important as appropriate credentialing and educational background is the willingness and constant effort to educate all dentists and anesthesia providers operating in dental settings with particular risks, practice modifications, and hazards that exist,” Tom said. 

“We appreciate the work of the National Commission to move forward in a process that gives the profession hope in effecting needed change. Being the newest ADA recognized specialty in 20 years, since oral radiology, perhaps indicates the speed at which dentistry moves. We hope to be part of a process that speeds up the timeline of innovation in oral healthcare, patient safety, and increased overall patient care in all respects.” 

Dr. Davis practices general dentistry in Santa Fe, NM. He assists as an expert witness in dental fraud and malpractice legal cases. He currently chairs the Santa Fe District Dental Society Peer-Review Committee and serves as a state dental association member to its house of delegates. He extensively writes and lectures on related matters. He may be reached at or

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