Our treatment goal for the pediatric patient is: Optimal treatment for the pediatric patient can be completed in the shortest possible period, while insuring he or she will return for treatment willingly.
Let’s analyze this statement with emphasis on the bold words.
Optimal treatment – As practitioners, we want to render optimal and mistake free treatment to patients, primarily because as health practitioners we have a responsibility not to harm a patient but also for financial reasons. When we render inferior treatment, a failure comes back to haunt us. At the very least, we have to correct the situation at no cost to the patient. The disgruntled patient will badmouth us to others or go to the extreme of accusing us of malpractice. Thus, we want to create an environment for the pediatric patient that results in cooperative behavior where we can provide optimal treatment.
Shortest possible period – From the time we were in dental school we’ve been taught that in our practices “time is money.” Thus, the fees we set in our practices are based on the amount of time we anticipate needing to complete a procedure. We charge more for procedures that require more time (such as complex prosthetic procedures) than less time consuming procedures (an exam or prophylaxis). If we use an excessive amount of time on a particular procedure, the less productive we are. Thus, taking an hour to perform an examination on a pediatric patient for a fee of $50 would not be an efficient use of time. The techniques we use to treat the patient should allow us to complete the treatment in a reasonable amount of time.
He or she will return for treatment willingly – In spite of the need to provide efficient treatment it is still necessary for us to accomplish it in a manner that will encourage the child to return for subsequent treatment willingly and fearlessly. The most efficient way to examine an 18-month old patient would be to seat them in the dental chair without an introduction and use four adults to restrain the child. However, it is doubtful that child would return willingly for subsequent treatment.
The infant and toddler’s first visit to the dentist should provide for a foundation of pleasant experiences and attitudes for future oral healthcare. By learning some basic introductory techniques to dentistry, dentists and auxiliaries can provide a non-threatening and comfortable environment for the very youngest of patients.