Historically, parents have been discouraged from accompanying their children into the exam room during dental visits. However, recently 38% of dentists say that parental desire to be present during their children's examination has increased, and 61% of parents have been present during emergency dental examinations of young patients. There are several benefits to you being present at your child's examination, including helping your child to relax and cooperate and advocating for their interests throughout the procedure. In some cases, your presence may increase your child's anxiety or distract their dentist, though. There are several aspects you need to be aware of to determine if you are helping or hindering your child's examination.
The Age Of Your Child
As your child grows up, they will become more independent and be able to manage more of the dental care on their own. However, if you are taking your toddler to the dentist for emergency treatment, you may need to be in the exam room with them and the dentist may even request that you hold them or gently restrain them throughout the examination and treatment.
If your child is a toddler, your dentist will probably ask for your assistance during their treatment. If your child is a preschooler, whether you are needed in the exam room will depend on your child's level of independence and communication. As your child grows, your child's personality and your own dental experiences may be the biggest factor on deciding whether you are necessary in the exam room.
Your Child's Level Of Independence
A child's level of confidence and independence depends on much more than their chronological age. Some very young patients will have no problem going with a dental assistant into the treatment room and sitting in the exam chair. They may be curious about the instruments the dentist uses rather than concerned or fearful. If your young child is highly independent, it may be better to allow them to enter the exam room on their own, to begin building lifelong trust with their dentist. If your child is more reserved, you may have to let their dentist know that you want to accompany them during their first few treatments.
Your Child's Level Of Communication
Toddlers, who are just learning how to speak and may not yet understand communicating by gesture, such as raising their hand when they need to spit, may need your assistance to communicate throughout the exam. You can help the dentist by telling them the exact words you use regarding oral and general health at home and interpreting your young child's responses for them.
Your Child's Current Attitude Towards You
If your child is currently in a defiant stage, where they are testing their boundaries with you, it may be better to send them into the exam room on their own. You may be surprised how much more cooperative a defiant child can be with a stranger than with a parent.
Your Personal History With Dental Treatment
If you have had negative experiences with medical or dental treatment, your child will likely pick up on your anxiety during the procedure. This can make an otherwise cooperative child resistant towards treatment. If you have negative feelings towards dental treatment, it may be better to send another trusted adult with your child or to allow the dentist to conduct their treatment without you.
Whether Chemical or Physical Restraints Will Be Used
Sometimes, chemical or physical restraints will be necessary to safely treat a young patient. Both chemical and physical restraints can be intimidating for children. If restraints are used, you should be actively present while your child is being restrained. Once they are restrained, you may be asked to leave the exam room or to stay for the procedure, depending on your child and their dentist.
In most cases, a parental presence can provide comfort for a child during a dental treatment. However, it is also important to develop trust and independence in your child in order to promote a lifetime of healthy dental care. Discuss your options with your child's dentist in depth before making any decisions regarding your presence in the exam room. For more information, contact a clinic such as Cobbe Dental & Orthodontics.