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Permanent link  Dentist vs. parent


Please welcome Dr. Adrian Codel, a CDS member and general dentist who practices on Chicago's north side. Today Dr. Codel shares an early experience he had with parents who ignored all dental advice and thus harmed their children's oral health.

My first associateship was at a pediatric practice where I was afforded the opportunity to treat the children as well as the parents. It was a great experience. I learned that the biggest challenge pediatric dentists face isn't always the children's behavior, but the parents' behavior--like helicopter parents who won't leave the room no matter how many times you ask. In the dental setting this is the parent that stays by the child's side and convinces them that the visit is going to be a negative experience. However, the only thing negative about the experience is what they are telling their kids.

What will always stick in my mind, though, is the family where mom was a lawyer and dad was a physician. Obviously, they were well-educated with wonderful children. However, they refused to follow the hygiene recommendations made by the AAPD and ignored any dentist who advised no juice in the bottle. Instead, these parents would simply instruct us, "Let us know when it is time to go to the OR."

I saw two of their children end up in the OR for restorative care by age 6. I always felt this was borderline neglect except for the fact that they were committed to treating the kids at a fixed point in time.

I am sure anyone who treats children can relate to the parent that does more harm than good when it comes to their child's oral health and dental experience. However, I still ponder the best way to address these situations.


adrian codel , food for thought , pediatric dentistry ,

I certainly feel your pain! It is great to work with children and I really enjoy it but the parents can make it unpleasant. The one thing I have learned over the 10 years I have been in practice as a pediatric dentist is I cannot make everyone happy. So, sometimes if I feel the parent and I are not on the same page instead of trying to convince them to do something I recommend they go for a 2nd opinion. Many times they end up returning to our office and are much more agreeable, but if they don't return then it just wasn't meant to be :)

Posted by: Anonymous ( on 05/16/2011