Why Do Some Dentists Use Restraints on Children?
I read that some pediatric dentists restrain children during treatment. I was horrified. Why would a dentist want to do that? I’m a little afraid of taking my child to a pediatric dentist.
Our children are the most important thing in our lives. We revolve our schedules around their needs. We worry about them constantly. We want the absolute best for them. That includes protecting them. There are two types of restraints. The first is called a mouth prop.
These are a restraint that are used to keep a child’s mouth open during a procedure. It is essential these are used. If your pediatric dentist doesn’t use them, it is actually putting your child at risk. Let me tell you a story a colleague of mine told me.
When he and another gentleman were in medical school, they were working on a pediatric patient to drill for a filling. This student neglected to place a mouth prop on the child. At some point during the procedure, the child bit down, causing the drill to go through the tooth into the pulp. They called the instructor over, who gave him a stern lecture. Additionally, they had to upgrade the child from a simple filling to a pulpotomy. That is a child’s version of a root canal treatment. My colleague, after witnessing that disaster, vowed to never work on a patient without a mouth prop.
The next type of restraint is a bit more controversial. Truthfully, a good pediatric dentist can work a procedure on most children without the need for this type of restraint. There are two exceptions:
- First, is when you have a child with such high anxiety that they will never allow a dentist to work on them. However, even this has another option that could eliminate the need for the board.
- Second, is when you have a child who is absolutely defiant. In most cases, you can just send them home and let the parents deal with them, unless they say to use the papoose board to get the work done. This is especially necessary if the child has a dental emergency that needs to be dealt with without delay or the child will be at risk.
When these cases necessitate restraints, it is usually a positive thing for the child. The papoose board feels like a tight hug. Anxious children usually calm down. Defiant children, once they realize this work is getting done, calm down as well.
A Help for Children with Dental Anxiety
One thing that tends to help children relax if they are anxious is nitrous oxide. This is sometimes called “laughing gas”. It doesn’t make children silly, but does give them a relaxed floaty feel. Most of them fall asleep. One of it’s best secondary benefits is once the procedure is completed, the dentist switches from nitrous to oxygen. In just a few moments, your child is ready to hop off the table and get on with the day.
This blog is brought to you by the Akron Dentists at Angel Dental Care.