Going to the dentist is a hard situation for many children. Even many adults have certain reservations about going to the dentist. Typically, this is just an irrational fear, and it goes away after you get to know your care provider. 

However, there is one situation that never seems to go over well with parents. Why pediatric dentists do not allow parents in the room?

It’s not expected, and as a parent, you want to be right by your child’s side. Especially if they aren’t comfortable with their dentist. 

This isn’t a shady situation or anything dangerous, though. There are some good reasons for this. 

To help put your mind at ease and let you understand this seemingly unacceptable rule, we want to take some time today to give you the reasoning behind it, why it’s beneficial, and some things you should know in general.

Let’s get started. 

The Reasons Parents Aren’t Allowed

As a parent, you’re probably used to accompanying your child into any serious situation. Especially if they’re young children. 

You might think there is no possible explanation for a pediatric dentist not allowing parents to sit in the operating room and provide comfort for their child, and for some parents, that stops a dental appointment in its tracks.

It seems like a red flag or like the dentist has malicious intentions. 

All those thoughts are perfectly understandable, but here are the various, very important, reasons why pediatric dentists do not allow parents in the room.

1: Maintaining Proper Space Requirements

Dental examination and treatment rooms aren’t large. While it might seem like there’s enough room for you, the dentist, and your child, keep in mind that dentists require a team for the majority of their treatment tasks.

Why pediatric dentists do not allow parents in the room - professional medical team with a young patient.

The dentist, and their support team, can’t do their job properly if they’re competing for space and every square inch counts. 

2: Parental Anxiety Affects the Child

Pediatric dentists are specifically trained to work with children and get them into a good state for treatment.

We understand that having a strange-looking person digging around in your mouth with odd tools is a scary situation, and kids need to be in a good place mentally before treatment starts. 

Unfortunately, parents can get anxious while watching a dentist perform their duties, and that anxiety can start to affect the child.

If mom or dad are acting anxious when a drill fires up, or they start getting squeamish when a needle is used, that rubs off on the child, and it undoes all the work done to get them into a good mental place. 

3: Parental Interference

There’s no easy way to say this, but parents do tend to get in the way. It’s usually not even intentional, but even if it’s an accident, it greatly reduces the quality of treatment. 

It’s natural for a parent to see their child not cooperating and lend their voice in an attempt to make the child cooperate. This is one of the most common types of interference. For example, imagine your child is crying and very anxious, and you start trying to give your child a pep talk. 

That sounds fine, but in reality, it’s detrimental. 

The dentist is trained to deal with this situation, and most of the time, they also relay crucial information and instructions while calming the child. When a parent inserts themselves into that dentist/patient conversation, it disrupts it and throws everything off. 

4: Reduced Dentist/Patient Relationship

Children aren’t comfortable with dentist visits because they don’t build relationships with their dentists.

Think of this like you would your child’s schooling.

You send your child off to their first day in a new grade, and they have yet to learn who the teacher is. They’re nervous, they might not be enthusiastic about participating in their learning activities, and in general, they don’t want to go.

However, over a week or two, they start to enjoy going. They’ve built relationships with their classmates, and they get to know their teachers. 

Unfortunately, children rarely get to build a relationship with their dentist.

Why pediatric dentists do not allow parents in the room - child enjoying time at the pediatric dentistry.

Not only do they not go as often, but when they do, parents take the wheel. They answer all the dentist’s questions for them, try to handle the calming phase, and generally step into the child’s role in their dentist/patient relationship.

The child never gets to build that relationship that creates comfort and enthusiasm for going to the dentist. 

The reason why many pediatric dentists do not allow parents in the room is because they aim to foster a connection and understanding with the child. It makes a huge difference in the quality of treatment going forward, as well.

Benefits of Parents Not Entering with Their Child

This can all still seem like a scary prospect or unnecessary, but there are real, practical, benefits from not going into the room with your child.

Here are some of the things you should expect. 

1: Faster Service

A lot of the reasons that pediatric dentists give for not allowing parents in the room is that they interfere or talk for the child.

Well, those things delay service.

When a dentist is free to leverage their training, they don’t just create a better environment for the child to receive care in, they also do it faster. They’re not stopping to answer questions or restart their instructions after a parental pep talk.

They go in, they calm the child, and they get the work done promptly. 

2: More Enthusiasm for Dental Visits

Like we said earlier, children usually don’t like going to the dentist, because they don’t have great relationships with their dentist.

They don’t go often, and unfortunately, many don’t go unless it’s a serious situation. Compounding that with not getting to know the dentist as a friend makes the whole situation unenjoyable. No wonder they don’t like it. 

However, when they do go to regular dentist visits, and they get 1-on-1 time with their dentist, they start to get to know them just like they do their teacher or any other adult they go around without their parents. 

They learn that the dentist can be fun and that they care about them. As a result, it’s not nearly as scary. They don’t look at it as going to a strange place for people to dig around in their mouths.

They know they’re going to see someone who’s fun, cares about them, and is overall, there to help. So, they become a lot more enthusiastic and comfortable with the entire situation. 

3: Better Service

Not only that a dentist can complete their work faster, but they can provide better dental services in general. A dentist’s office is like a well-oiled machine. Every staff member works together to ensure that each patient is treated properly. 

Not all parents do this, and most don’t mean to if they do, but parents sometimes toss a wrench in that well-oiled machine and reduce its efficacy. 

For example, imagine the dentist is trying to administer anesthesia for a serious dental procedure. Assistants will bring the appropriate tools, the dentist will keep the child calm and positive, and then everything will be administered as it’s supposed to without delay.

However, if a parent starts getting anxious, walking around their child, trying to give pep talks throughout the process, and other things, the team has to work around that. 

Considering dental work is a very detail-oriented job, there’s no room for any drops in efficiency. Everything needs to be perfect.

Can You Request to Be Present During Dentist Appointments? 

Technically speaking, you can appeal to your child’s dentist and see if they’ll allow you in during treatment. However, outside of a few notable circumstances, this typically isn’t a good idea. 

First, the policy is there for a reason as we’ve highlighted earlier. So, many dentists with this policy will refuse to budge on it unless there’s a good reason to do so.

Then, there might be a situation where you are preferred in the room.

Some children with disabilities might require their parents, and dentists are generally going to understand that very well. Again, the entire goal is to do what is best for your child. So, if being there is genuinely required, the dentist might be willing to make an exception. 

Of course, you should remember all the benefits we listed earlier and the reasoning behind these policies. It’s not wise to try to make the dentist let you in or manipulate the situation to break the policy. 

Do Dentists Ever Let Parents into the Room? 

It’s important to keep in mind that, while many pediatric dentists do not allow parents in the room, it’s not something every dentist does.

However, some are typically fairly strict expectations when parents are allowed in.

Why pediatric dentists do not allow parents in the room - child enjoying time at the pediatric dentistry.

Again, a lot is going on, and they can’t afford to have their work interrupted for a multitude of reasons. It’s not to be rude or take control of the situation.

You have to remember, that a dentist can be doing anything from a basic tooth cleaning to operating a drill on your child’s tooth. Everything has to be perfect. 

What To Do If Your Child’s Dentist Won’t Let You in the Room (and You Want to Be Present)?

If you want to be in the room, but it’s not part of the dental office’s normal policy, there are a few options. 

Like we said earlier, if your child suffers from a disability that makes treatment almost impossible without you being present, or you need to help meet their movement needs, you could simply ask if there’s any way for you to be able to do that.

If there’s a genuine reason, every dentist will do what’s best for the patient and let you help your child. 

Otherwise, we recommend looking at why you don’t want your child to go alone. In our experience, it’s usually just the normal parental sense of protectiveness.

There’s nothing wrong with that. However, you should be able to trust your child’s dentist and believe that your child is receiving high-quality care and treatment whether you’re watching the treatment or not.

If you look at the situation from an unbiased standpoint, and you find there’s a reason you can’t trust your child in their care, it’s best to find a new general pediatric dentist specialist

The dentist/patient relationship is just like the relationship your child has with their pediatrician or teacher. It has to be built on trust, or neither party wins. 

Is It Illegal to Keep Parents Out of the Dentist’s Office? 

This is an argument that comes up in this debate a lot because one would expect it to be illegal to separate a parent from their child. This is understandable. 

However, it’s not illegal. It’s simply a policy many dental offices have, and parents are fully capable of turning down the service.

Keep in mind that, while you’re within your rights to say “I’m not okay with that”, this is a common practice and you might have difficulty finding a dentist if you’re too firm on it. 

It’s also best to ask a staff member whether pediatric dentists allow parents in the room when you go to set up your child’s first appointment with a new dental office. This prevents you from getting a big shock when you show up expecting everything to go smoothly. 

Find a Dentist You Can Trust

You won’t constantly be bothered by why pediatric dentists do not allow parents in the room if you find a dentist that you can fully trust.

As such, you need to find a pediatric dentistry you’re comfortable with. 

At Dino Kids Dental, we’re dedicated to creating a relaxing and calm atmosphere for children of all ages and needs, and we cultivate a relationship with parents that lets you know you can trust your children with us. 

To book an appointment, contact us, today.