Pediatric dental visit – should I stay with my child?

By October 13, 2017 July 23rd, 2018 Pediatric Dentist

We relocated to IL 2 months ago. My son needs to have a dental cleaning in January. I called 3 different pediatric dentist’s offices and asked a few questions. They all said it’s up to me whether or not I stay in the treatment room with my son. Our dentist in PA didn’t want me to come into the office with my son even though I wanted to do so. Now that I’m being given the opportunity, I’m wondering if I should go in with him, or if I will mess things up. My son didn’t hate going to the dentist, but neither was he eager to go. I’m just kind of curious about how he is responding while sitting in the dental chair. Should I go in the treatment room with him or leave things as they are? Thank you! Kristiana

Kristiana,

Some pediatric dentists encourage parents to come into the treatment room with their children, while other dentists discourage it. The reasons parents are asked to stay in, or leave, the operatory/treatment room can vary, including:

  • Some dentists want a parent to be present in the operatory at some point as a way to educate parents about their kids’ oral health.
  • The dental team might want to establish a positive relationship with the child without interference from the parent.
  • Some parents interject during treatment and create tension with the child and/or dental staff.
  • Many offices don’t have a preference and give parents the choice of joining their child or waiting in the reception area.

Tips for Staying or Leaving the Pediatric Dentist’s Treatment Room

If you stay in the treatment room during your son’s visit to the pediatric dentist, there are a few things you can do to make the visit more comfortable for you, your child, and the dental team.

  • Sit or stand in a location that doesn’t interfere with the movement of the dental staff. Let your child know you’ll be in the room, but not in front of or beside him.
  • Be careful with your facial expressions and body language. If your child is able to sense that you’re concerned about something, it can make him upset.
  • Observe, but don’t talk too much with the dental team or your child, unless the dental team invites you to do so. Allow time for the dental team to build a positive rapport with your child.
  • Young children might need reassurance, so the dentist or hygienist might ask you to hold your child’s hand or otherwise provide comfort.

If you decide to wait in the reception area, there are a few reminders:

  • The dental team will keep you informed about your child’s well-being.
  • Stay at the office. Avoid leaving to run errands or take care of business.
  • Issues might arise that can be treated during the visit. Before the pediatric dentist can provide treatment, your consent will be required.

Before You Choose a Dentist

Before you schedule an appointment for your son, we suggest that you schedule consultations at two or three pediatric dental offices. Take your child with you. During your visits, observe the following:

  • Office environment
  • How the staff receives you and your child
  • How your child reacts to the office and staff
  • Is the office really kid friendly?
  • How the pediatric dentist interacts with you and your child

This post is sponsored by Naperville Dental Specialists, the office of Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

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