Perception of Protective Stabilization by Pediatric Dentists: A Qualitative Study

JDR Clin Trans Res. 2021 Oct;6(4):402-408. doi: 10.1177/2380084420963933. Epub 2020 Oct 7.


Introduction: Pediatric dentists sometimes have to care for children who refuse to cooperate with the oral examination or dental treatment. Behavior management strategies are used, such as "tell-show-do," distraction, and positive reinforcement. Anxiety management can also be performed by the use of conscious sedation (oral premedication, nitrous oxide/oxygen inhalation). Unfortunately, these techniques are sometimes insufficient for providing oral care, and protective stabilization may be an option in some situations. Little is known on the impact of physical restraint and how practitioners feel about it. The objective of this study was to evaluate the perception of dentists using protective stabilization for dental care in children.

Methods: Semistructured qualitative interviews on the perception of pediatric dentists concerning protective stabilization were conducted in the pediatric dentistry department of the University Hospital of Toulouse, France. A thematic analysis of interview transcripts was provided via NVivo software.

Results: This analysis highlighted 3 main themes. First, the perceptions of dentists concerning protective stabilization showed that this procedure has a major psychological impact and led to a feeling of professional failure. Second, the reasons for which the child was stabilized were described; these concerned the child (behavior, age, number of treatments) and the environment (the parents and the medical team). Finally, we detailed how dentists manage the effects of using of protective stabilization.

Conclusion: Dental surgeons must balance their requirement to make concrete decisions regarding the provision of care with their personal convictions about protective stabilization. This study also shows the need for specific training on this subject, as well as the desire of certain dentists that public authorities implement legislation on this matter.

Knowledge transfer statement: The findings of this study will improve the management of young patients by identifying situations where protective stabilization may be useful (age of the child, diagnosis, protection of the child or the medical team), while showing its psychological impact on practitioners. Finally, this work provides a basis for decision makers to propose a framework for the use of physical restraint.

Keywords: anxiety management; child; dental care; pediatric dentistry; physical restraint; psychological impact; qualitative study.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Conscious Sedation*
  • Dental Care
  • Dentists*
  • Humans
  • Perception
  • Qualitative Research