District of Columbia: Oral Sedation Dentistry Regulations

American Dental Association sedation guidelines provide that a dentist should complete at least 24 hours of instructive classroom training with at least 10 clinical patient experiences before providing healthy adult patients with minimal and moderate sedation using oral sedatives (incl. Valium®)* 

Find available training courses.

*ADA guidelines recommend 16 hours training for minimal sedation. The DC Board of Dentistry does not currently require formal training before providing oral conscious sedation to adult dental patients.

NOTE: In order to practice within the standard of care, the following are recommended:

Moderate oral sedation standard of care
(2007 ADA guidelines):

  • Pulse oximeter
  • Portable positive pressure oxygen with appropriate oral and nasal airways
  • Emergency drugs (flumazenil, ephinephrine, glucose, nitroglycerin, antihistamine, albuterol)
  • ACLS

Strongly recommended by DOCS:

  • 18 hours didactic team training
  • 14 hour didactic training course for sedating medically complex patients
  • AED
  • PALS (if treating pediatric patients)
District of Columbia: Pediatric Sedation Dentistry Regulations

Sedation dentistry for children is a unique science and requires pediatric-specific training. The standard of care for providing pediatric sedation requires several hours of instructive classroom training with clinically-oriented experiences. Learn more about Pediatric Sedation Training Courses availabe nationwide.

District of Columbia: IV Sedation Regulations

Most states require dentists to complete a 60-hour didactic course followed by 20 actual clinical patient cases of IV administration plus a permit in order to provide their patients with IV sedation.Find an IV Sedation Training course.

District of Columbia: Regulatory assistance

DOCS Education membership provides direct access to our full-time Regulatory Counsel for assistance in complying with the training and equipment requirements, obtaining your permit, and addressing advertising issues.

Why Do Oral Sedation?

An estimated 100 Million (nearly 30%) people nationwide are in need of dental care but too fearful to seek you out. To date, access to care for these patients has been limited. Now you can help.

Practicing oral sedation has many advantages for you, not the least of which is treating a more comfortable patient. Other advantages are: performing more dentistry in a single visit instead of having the patient come back again and again; bigger restorative cases from patients who were previously reluctant due to anxiety; and patients feeling little to no post-operative discomfort regardless of the procedure - resulting in more referrals.

And for your patients it means something else. A comfortable experience - often with no recollection of the visit or the time passed. I often hear of patients who call their dentist the next day not to complain, but to express their gratitude and delight in their first ever visit to the dentist without fear.


DOCS Education Regulatory Counsel

J. Kathleen “Kate” Marcus, J.D.

Kate Marcus

As our DOCS Education Regulatory Counsel, Kate is uniquely qualified to advise and advocate for sedation dentistry. She draws on a healthcare law background that started from her first big court case right out of law school, over three decades ago. A 1988 graduate of Temple University School of Law, she was Research Editor of the Temple Law Review; she previously attended Bennington College, and has a B.A. in Philosophy.

As DOCS’ Regulatory Counsel, Kate can help sedation dentists understand their permits so they can provide safe sedation dentistry and stay in compliance. She believes an adversarial approach is rarely productive; the point is to avoid conflict and avoid litigation.

Kate is Pennsylvania licensed, with extensive experience in civil and criminal litigation at the state and federal levels. Her specialties include compliance, healthcare law, contract negotiation, contract drafting, commercial litigation, small business, health insurance and regulation, and URAC; she has demonstrated excellence in persuasive writing and editing, public speaking, and compliance (EEOC, HIPAA, HITECH, Title IX).



In her transition from a litigator to a healthcare lawyer, Kate found the “trauma informed” was of appeal. She realized the importance of understanding the anxiety patients may bring to an appointment. Many people seeking sedation are afraid; the Dentist needs to approach each patient with the understanding that they are coming with trauma and respect that. Kate would love to be able to talk with DOCS members more about trauma and how to have the most productive relationship with their patients.



The nexus of science and civil rights, including helping people get access to compassionate healthcare, fascinates Kate. She has a long history of representing distressed populations, including people in abusive relationships, children in foster care, people with HIV, and others — inside the courtroom and out. She has a passion to find funding for kids in foster care who don’t have sedation coverage, and work with dentists willing to treat autistic kids, with skill and compassion. She would love to see pro-bono dental service to survival shelters. Kate truly has a heart to advocate for those with special needs.


Kate values openness and availability to boards and DOCS members. She believes in being reasonable and seeking consensus on evidence-based solutions that work for everyone.