Should Parents be Allowed in the Operatory, Yes or No Way?

b2ap3 thumbnail surpised kid in dental chair

Should parent’s be allowed in the operatory during treatment with their child? While some practices don’t allow adults back for any reason, some leave it up to the parent and child. Most clinicians will agree that the child is much easier to deal with than the adult. If you’ve ever had to ask a parent not to come back or leave the operatory, you’ve probably witnessed some pretty awful behavior from the adult and not the child. What are some of the reasons adults feel compelled to be present in the operatory?

  1. They simply don’t want the child to go back alone because they feel it makes the child more comfortable being in the room. In reality, it’s most likely the adult who is anxious.
  2. They feel that their presence makes the child behave better. In most cases, this is not true, and the child’s demeanor will improve greatly once the parent is out of sight.
  3. They think they have to accompany the child. This is easily addressed once the adult understands your office policy regarding staying in the treatment room.
  4. They distrust the medical profession. This is also easily addressed once the adult understands your office policy and why it’s in place.

So, should the parent be allowed to come back? That depends on what type of parent and child with which you’re dealing. Some parents are quiet and simply observe while others are tremendously overbearing and need to stay in the reception area. With all parents, education is key.  It’s imperative to educate the parent as to why their presence would or wouldn’t be acceptable. If you do allow the parent’s presence, you must make it clear that they are to be quiet observers.

How do most kids feel about having their parent in the room? It depends on their age, but the answers might surprise you. Children five and younger like mom back to come back and hold their hand or just be present. Kid’s ages seven to ten don’t seem to care either way. Most teens aren’t nervous at all and are embarrassed if their parent comes in with them. I’ve witnessed many teens asking mom to leave and wait out front.

There are some situations where a parent should be present, such as during first visit exams while they get to know you and your team. This helps to build trust and is also the time to discuss your policy on parents being in the operatory. Other times when you may relax your policy is with special needs patients and trauma situations. By making your policies clear, you’ll prevent the uncomfortable situation of being watched like a hawk and constantly interrupted while you’re trying to complete a procedure.

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