If you’re like most parents, you only want the best for your child – and you certainly don’t want your child to be afraid to visit the dentist. In dentistry for children, most professionals know to make the earliest visits more pleasant.
But sometimes pediatric dentists use a technique called papoosing – and that’s something that we believe has no place in pediatric dentistry.
What is Papoosing?
Papoosing refers to the general practice of immobilizing a child for dental work. There’s an official Papoose® restraint board, as well as a few other name brands, but the idea is to restrain your child by strapping down his or her arms and legs so that the dentist can perform a procedure.
The board itself is used to limit the child’s freedom of movement. Marketed as a stabilization device, the product description says, “A struggling, frantic child can be completely immobilized in less than 60 seconds.” It features canvas flaps that a dentist can use to strap your child’s arms, legs and head in place.
We think there are better alternatives for struggling, frantic children – and the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry agrees.
What the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry Says About Papoosing
The American Association of Pediatric Dentistry acknowledges that some children’s dental practices use the technique. However, it also recognizes that most people who use restraints in dentistry are untrained. According to the AAPD, only 2 percent of dental school graduates have hands-on experience using these types of devices on children.
The AAPD urges extreme caution in the use of papoose boards and other restraint systems, and it warns dentists that physical restraint can be physically damaging to children.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that practitioners should limit papoosing as much as possible. The AAP also says that other techniques, like allowing parents or caregivers to hold kids or using anesthesia, are “a viable and more humane alternative” to papoosing.
What to Do if Your Pediatric Dentist Recommends a Papoose Board
Ultimately, the decision to restrain your child is up to you. You have several choices if your pediatric dentist recommends the use of a papoose board, and one of them is getting a second opinion from another dentist. In some cases, sedation is the most appropriate choice to ensure your child gets the care he or she needs without traumatizing them.
Why the Papoose Board Doesn’t Work for Our Practice
Like you, we don’t want your children to grow up afraid of the dentist – and like you, we recognize that a child can be tremendously traumatized by being strapped down against his or her will. We would rather build trust with your child, and we’d rather ensure that he or she feels comfortable visiting the dentist in the future, too.
It’s our firm belief that there are better alternatives to papoosing, and our team includes a residency-trained MD or DDS anesthesiologist working with a pediatric dentist. Dentistry for children doesn’t have to be traumatic; it can, and should be, a positive experience for your kids.