The Benefits of Assessing Pediatric Patient Behavior During Dental Appointments

Evaluating the patient's cooperative potential is essential for planning treatment. No single method or tool can accurately predict a child's behavior, but understanding the various influences that shape their response to care can help create an effective treatment plan. Keeping track of a child's behavior over multiple visits or over a period of years can help control their behavior and provide a basis for planning. To collect this information, a separate column should be included in the patient's medical record to record their behavior.

Figure 3-2 records a child's behavior during several appointments using the Frankl rating scale. This scale allows for an abbreviated form, with (+) or (++) indicating positive cooperative behavior and (−) or (%3D) indicating uncooperative behavior. This makes it easy to quickly assess a child's performance. Similar notation can be done on computerized medical records using appropriate software.

Behavioral assessment is an invaluable tool for pediatric dentists. It helps them execute the required treatment plan in the most appropriate way, instilling a positive attitude towards dental treatment or procedures. It is important to note that behavioral rating scales should never be used as the sole source of information for diagnosing or classifying any educational or psychological problem. The purpose of behavioral observations is to provide an accurate description and understanding of the child.

Pediatric dentists and their teams who practice in a compassionate and humane way develop strong relationships with patients and their families over time. This training sets pediatric dentists apart, giving them the experience needed to manage children's behavior and facilitate ideal preventive, restorative and oral surgical care in a safe and comfortable environment. It is important for pediatric dentists to evaluate and assess a child's psychological, personal, and behavioral responses, as they play an important role in treating anxiety and fear of the dentist. Pediatric dentists often face behavioral management problems and continue to seek safe and cost-effective techniques for treating children with health issues.

Nowadays, it seems that the decision to use advanced behavioral management techniques is often made unconsciously because the pediatric dentist lacks the necessary skills to provide optimal treatment without sedation or general anesthesia. Pediatric dentists often prefer to use pharmacological measures to achieve the required level of cooperation with very young children (preschool age). Changes in parenting styles, dysfunctional family conditions, and societal expectations contribute to the challenges faced by dentists who treat pediatric patients. Evaluating children based on their behavior is one of the most important skills for a pediatric dentist. Pediatric dentists and other dentists who treat children should not abandon the unique techniques that have been the foundation of successful clinical care for generations of children.

Pediatric dentists must continue to master the ability to manage the behavior of young and difficult children in order to be better prepared to provide science-based therapies and provide long-term solutions. These relationships can become so strong that many former patients will return to their original pediatric dentist when their own children are ready for dental care. Evaluating pediatric patient behavior throughout a dental appointment is essential for providing optimal care and building long-term relationships with patients.

Sammy Bownds
Sammy Bownds

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