Discretionary Parental Presence in the Dental Operatory: A Survey of Pediatric Dentists and Parents

John E. Nathan*, Martin S. Rayman, Bruce E. Golden and Kaaren G. Vargas

Discretionary Parental Presence in the Dental Operatory: A Survey of Pediatric Dentists and Parents.

The decision to include or exclude parent presence in the dental operatory during a child’s visit has long been a controversial issue in pediatric dentistry. The intent of this paper was to explore the contemporary views of pediatric dentists and parents with respect to the rationale for which including or excluding parents has impact on children’s behavior and response to dental treatment.

While it seems likely that this may long remain a debate among pediatric specialists, interest nevertheless remains to attempt to sort out the basis for the diversity in behavior guidance philosophies. With few exceptions, there is a paucity of (controlled or otherwise) data that has attempted to elucidate the effect of parental presence on children’s immediate as well
as long-term responses to dental care.

Of the limited prospective data reported, indications have been in directions which support the beneficial nature of parent inclusion. However, there appears to be no disagreement among pediatric clinicians that instances exist in which some parents by virtue of personality, demeanor, attitude, and behavior, consider parent presence as counterproductive to the establishment of a favorable rapport, development of acceptance and coping behaviors of some children. Similarly, there are some children, by virtue of an ability to manipulate adult behavior, perform in the presence of their parents potentially nullifying any benefit of having a parent present.

Parental preferences and patent acceptance of the practitioner’s need to establish authority and in some cases provide discipline for certain behaviors has lessened. Progress and energies in the direction of demonstrating evidence based support for the methods employed to manage challenging behaviors of children appear to gradually replace old ways.

Pediatr Neonatal Nurs Open J
. 2015; 2(2): 50-61. doi: 10.17140/PNNOJ-2-109