Ask a Dentist


Why do pediatric dentists prefer parents to stay in the waiting room?

It is not a wholesale policy; however, if a parent is asked to wait outside, it is to allow the child and dentist to develop a one-on-one relationship with the goal of establishing trust. Before this can occur, it is critical that the child have no distractions and is allowed to focus his or her complete attention on the directions of the dentist and staff. Most professionals understand that parents need to help or support their child during this process, but, in many instances, it can inhibit successfully gaining the children’s full attention. This is especially true if the children are anxious or afraid.


What is meant by a non-pharmacological behavior management approach?

Simply put, this means no sedation to alter or control the behavior of the child.  Agents such as narcotics, barbiturates, sedative hypnotics or nitrous oxide (laughing gas) are not utilized to control behavior. This is based on the philosophy that a child can learn to control his or her level of fear and anxiety in relation to the dental visit via a positive, nurturing and painless experience. Obviously this approach requires that the dentist spend more time working directly with the child. It has been my experience over 25 years that even the youngest children eventually learn not to fear the dental experience. Every dentist has his or her own philosophy regarding behavior management. Be sure you ask questions and are comfortable with the approach of your child’s dentist.

What is the main benefit of this approach?

A non-pharmacological approach is not a typical “quick fix.” It takes more time and effort, but the rewards are long-lasting and positive for the child. Most of my patients grow up to be great dental patients and are comfortable in the dental environment.


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