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Essential Medications for Dental Office Medical Emergencies

Emergency Medical Kits
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Because a medical emergency can happen at any time, all dental offices should be equipped and trained to respond to medical emergencies. There is a consensus among dental thought leaders, including the American Dental Association, about the core medications that should make up the basic emergency medical kit.

The Emergency Medications Every Dental Practice Should Maintain

This infographic at the bottom of the page shows the core emergency drugs that every dental office should have on hand including but not limited to:

  • Epinephrine – More commonly known as adrenaline, epinephrine is a hormone that causes an increase in heart rate, muscle strength, blood pressure, and sugar metabolism. Epinephrine injections are used to treat anaphylaxis resulting from a severe allergic reaction or acute asthmatic attack. An epinephrine auto-injector, commonly referred to by the branded name EpiPen® but widely available as generic, is essential to providing a rapid initial response. A back-up injection should also be on hand in case the patient has a biphasic reaction.
  • Albuterol – An albuterol inhaler is an asthma inhaler used to treat acute bronchospasms in asthma attacks.
  • Diphenhydramine – Diphenhydramine is a histamine blocker used to treat patients with mild or delayed-onset allergic reactions.
  • Aspirin – Aspirin is administered as part of the MONA protocol when myocardial infarction is suspected.
  • Nitroglycerin – Nitroglycerin is a coronary vasodilator used to relieve severe angina symptoms such as chest pain or pressure. Nitroglycerin may be administered through a sublingual tablet or translingual spray.
  • Ammonia Inhalants – Commonly known as smelling salts, ammonia capsules act as a stimulant to improve the consciousness of patients who have fainted.
  • Glucose – Glucose is a simple sugar used to treat diabetic or hypoglycemic patients during a blood sugar-related emergency.

Naloxone Now Recommended

Because of the growing opioid addiction epidemic, the opioid overdose reversal drug naloxone, often sold under the brand name NARCAN®, is now recommended as an emergency drug for dentistry. Naloxone is an opioid antagonist administered as a nasal spray to reverse opioid-induced respiratory depression.

Dental Office Readiness

All dental offices should have a current (non-expired) supply of core emergency drugs for immediate administration during a medical emergency. Medical personnel should be trained on, and familiar with administration of, the recommended emergency drugs.

Helpful resources:

Keeping Emergency Medications Current

HealthFirst offers a complete line of medications to help dental practices and oral surgeons prepare for a medical emergency. The HealthFirst Auto-Replenishment Service and OnTraq application use smart automation to track expiration dates of medications and devices, refilling them before they expire, keeping medications up-to-date while saving time and lowering costs.

Purchase your kit with the Practice Partner Program, and take advantage of online training, on-time medication replenishment plus other benefits. One flat price includes access to CE training, time-saving applications, on-call emergency physician services and all annual medication replenishments.

Essential Medications for Dental Office Medical Emergencies