Medical emergencies in the oral health care setting

J Dent Hyg. 2000 Spring;74(2):136-51; quiz 152-5.


On any given day a patient seen by the dental hygienist has the potential of experiencing a life-threatening medical emergency. All dental hygiene practitioners should be aware of potential risks that a patient may present, take steps to prevent life-threatening events from occurring, and plan for problems in advance of their happening. The primary goal of this course is to help dental hygienists carry out the ethical, moral, legal, and professional obligation owed any patient. The course will review the basics of medical emergencies, with particular emphasis on those that are most likely to occur in the dental office. Discussion will center on general aspects of prevention and preparation, and will focus on the recognition and emergency treatment of specific conditions. Vasodepressor syncope, orthostatic hypotension, acute adrenal insufficiency, hyperventilation, asthma, heart failure and acute pulmonary edema, cerebrovascular accident seizures, hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia, myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, and anaphylaxis will be emphasized.

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Insufficiency / complications
  • Adult
  • Asthma / complications
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation / education
  • Dental Care* / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Dental Hygienists
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Emergencies*
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Ethics, Dental
  • Humans
  • Hyperventilation / complications
  • Hypotension, Orthostatic / complications
  • Medical History Taking
  • Middle Aged
  • Myocardial Infarction / complications
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Risk Assessment
  • Seizures / complications
  • Stroke / complications
  • Syncope, Vasovagal / complications
  • Unconsciousness


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations