Should an Orthodontist Treat a Patient who Cries
Dr. Amanda from Straight Smile Solutions. Today, let’s delve into a crucial query that concerns dentists, pediatric dentists, and orthodontists working with children: “Are you wondering if it’s the right moment to address a dental problem when your patient is feeling unhappy, crying, or a bit uncooperative?”

Patient Readiness and Timing:
● Treating a dental issue isn’t an emergency, even if it’s orthodontic. Cosmetic and functional improvements are important, but patient readiness is equally vital.
● Starting a case at the right time is pivotal. Rushing into treatment when a patient is unmanageable due to behavioral or medical factors can lead to suboptimal outcomes.
● Consider the age and individual growth patterns of the child. Phase 1 treatment should be differentiated based on the patient’s age, gender, and needs.
● Parental desires for early treatment must be balanced with the patient’s readiness. Convenience should never override the patient’s well-being.
Transparency and Communication:
● Transparency is the cornerstone of successful treatment. If you’re considering starting a borderline case, communicate openly with parents about the challenges and potential extended treatment duration.
● Discuss the possibility of accommodating appointments during less busy hours to ensure an environment that suits the patient’s needs.
● Written agreements are essential when making special arrangements. These help avoid misunderstandings and establish a clear framework for treatment expectations.
Team Alignment and Collaboration:
● A united team approach is non-negotiable. All members must align with the treatment plan, including the family, patient, and staff.
● Taking on cases your staff isn’t equipped to handle can lead to detrimental outcomes. Assess the capabilities of your team before committing to complex cases.
● Collaborate closely with parents to address compliance issues. While you can provide alternatives, parental management of the child’s behavior is a shared responsibility.
Empowering Parents and Setting Boundaries:
● Educate parents about their role in managing compliance. Removable treatment options with shorter appointments can be more manageable for certain cases.
● While you can offer guidance, it’s important to establish that parental management is outside your scope of responsibility.
Treatment Discontinuation and Final Decision:
● The doctor has the ultimate authority in deciding whether to continue or discontinue treatment. This decision can be made by either the parent or the doctor at any point.
● Clearly outline the process for discontinuation and associated costs from the outset to prevent confusion later on.
Prioritizing Stress-Free Treatment:
● The well-being of everyone involved, including the patient, should be the priority throughout the treatment journey.
● A successful outcome hinges on factors like patient readiness, effective communication, and the collaborative efforts of the entire team.
Treating a dental issue in an unhappy or uncooperative child requires careful consideration. The readiness of the patient, transparent communication with parents, team alignment, and a clear treatment approach are all pivotal aspects. By working together, you can ensure that dental treatment for children is effective and a positive experience for everyone involved.