Adults and kids alike can be a little frightened of visiting the dentist under the best of circumstances.
But after a parent in Georgia discovered his daughter strapped in to the chair for a dental visit, many are questioning the dentists's decision to use physical restraints on the little girl.
As WSB-TV reports, James Crow had taken his five-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, to the dentist to have a front tooth removed when he made the disturbing discovery.
Crow was not allowed into the exam room, but when he heard screams, he rushed to his daughter's side only to find her alone and strapped into something called a “papoose board.”
“I couldn’t see my kid in the body bag just strapped down to the bed, I couldn’t handle it,” Crow told WSB-TV.
Evelyn Crow, Elizabeth's grandmother, says that the girl was shaking and frightened and had to be carried out of the room.
The dental office, called Smiles-R-Us, claimed that parents have to consent to the use of the papoose board, but both Evelyn and James Crow say that no mention was made of restraints, only the laughing gas that would be needed for the extraction.
Evelyn says that she spoke to the dentist about why Elizabeth had been placed in restraints and was told that her granddaughter was uncooperative.
The dentist, Dr. Jamey Chang, did not respond to interview requests. However, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) has issued a lengthy policy statement on the use of restrictive devices like the papoose board.
In it, they stress that parental consent is required and recommend that a separate discussion be held with the parents on the risks, benefits, and options involved with “protective stabilization”— preferably on a separate day from the treatment.
In addition, they suggest that when a patient does need to be placed in restraints, a parent should remain with him or her and stress that using such devices should be a choice of last resort, not convenience:
“Alternative approaches to restricting patient movement during medically necessary dental care should be explored before immobilizing a patient. Protective stabilization should be used only when less restrictive interventions are not effective.”
Georgia, like many states, has no laws or regulations that govern the use of restraints like the papoose board. However, the AAPD cautions that such devices can be harmful to patients and upsetting to parents.