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Restraints on Children at the Dentist?


Restraints on Children at the Dentist?

Posted by writeradmin

My sister went to the pediatric dentist with her first child and they wanted her to sign a paper saying it was okay to use restraints if necessary. They also said she couldn’t go back with her. Is it just me or does this seem sketchy?


Dear Meagan,

four children in an arched line, smiling

I can tell you are a good aunt and really care. First, I will say your sister should never go to a dental office for her children which makes her uncomfortable. She is the child’s mother and if she thinks it is best that she should be with her child during treatment, then she should be allowed to go back with them. There are plenty of dentists who treat children out there, so there really is no need for her to stay with one where she doesn’t like the policies.

Pediatric Dental Restraints

There are two types of restraints when it comes to dental care. The first is more of a prop and it is designed to keep the child’s mouth open during treatment.

Dental Mouth props
Dental Mouth Props


If a pediatric dentist did not use these, I would insist they do. Not using them puts your child at risk. I’ve seen a dentist do a procedure that required a drill without them and the child bit down, causing the drill to go through the tooth and out through the other side of her gum. That is a quick way to give a child a horrifyingly traumatic experience at the dental office.

Pediatric Dental Papoose Board
Papoose Board

I’m guessing what they wanted her to sign off on was a papoose board, which would look a bit like what you see above. These are used for children who are absolutely so terrified that they are not allowing treatment. However, I would recommend them only if there is a dental emergency going on that requires treatment right away. In most cases, a child can be calmed down by a dentist who is good at working with children. Some children, with high anxiety, will require some dental sedation to help relax them.

If an emergency does come up that requires the papoose, children often calm down in it right away.

This blog is brought to you by Mt. Dora Dentist Dr. Michelle Stillman.