I was going to a new pediatric dentist and they had a section on the consent form that asked for my permission to use restraints. I was horrified and left. Why would a dentist ever need to use restraints on a child?
I understand your concern and it shows you are a good and caring mother. When it comes to the word restraints, it can conjure up horrific pictures in our minds. The good news is, the type of restraints your pediatric dentist is talking about is likely very different from any of those images.
The first type of restraint is pictured above. These are used to prop open a child’s mouth during procedures. This is important to protect your child from harm. A colleague of mine shared a story about a student in a dental school incident where a dental student was doing a filling on a child, when she bit down on the drill, causing it to go through her tooth and into the pulp. Now, instead of needing a simple filling, she had to have a pulpotomy, which is the child’s version of a root canal treatment. He vowed never to do a procedure on a child without a mouth restraint (prop).
A Pediatric Papoose
A papoose board is another type of pediatric restraint. It feels more like a tight hug than a traditional restraint. It is used for highly fearful or highly uncooperative children. In most cases, this is not even necessary. A dentist who is good with children can usually calm them down.
For those with high anxiety, it is helpful to see a sedation dentist before resorting to a papoose. This is because the sedation options can relax a child and give them a positive experience at the dentist. So, when would a papoose board be necessary?
One reason for its use is if there is a dental emergency with an uncooperative child. If you’ve got a child with tooth infections, this must be treated. Dental infections spread. If you think about how close their jaw is to their heart, lungs, and brain, you can see why a dental infection can turn life-threatening. The good news is, in almost every case when a child is put in a papoose, they calm down.
This blog is brought to you by Hoffman Estates Dentist Dr. William Becker.