Mother says dentist put his hand over 9-year-old’s mouth to stop her crying, saying it’s a dentistry technique

The girl left the dentist’s office distraught and in pain, says mother

Helen Elfer
Thursday 21 October 2021 20:45
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A Virginia mother has accused a dentist of covering her daughter’s mouth with his hand during a procedure.

Tracy Sikes’ 9-year-old-daughter had an appointment at Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics of Virginia to cap a molar, and left the dentist’s office distraught, swollen and in pain, reports Newsbreak.

Ms Sikes said, “She said that she was crying and screaming because it hurt when he was drilling,” and told her mother that Dr Steven Lubbe then covered her mouth with his hand.

“She told me that the dentist clamped his hand over her mouth and leaned down and told her to stop crying,” said Ms Sikes. “When I hear that an adult man has put his hand over my daughter’s mouth when she is in pain and upset, of course, that brings out the mamma bear.”

“I was so shocked that anybody would do that,” she added, saying: “Her hands were already apparently being restrained by the assistants.”

Ms Sikes said she was surprised to learn some dentists use a little-known technique supposed to calm a hysterical child called “hand over mouth”.

The practice is no longer taught in dentistry schools and frowned upon by leading dental groups. Some dentists even believe the practice to be abusive, but it is still considered acceptable in Virginia.

Dr. Roger Wood, a retired pediatric dentist who served on the Virginia Board of Dentistry, said the method used to be taught to dentists as a way to control a child during a procedure.

“They’re crying so they put their hand over their mouth to muffle them and tell them they will take their hand off if they stop crying,” he said, adding that he does not agree with the technique.

“I totally am against it. I never used it,” Dr Wood said. “I just feel like that there are better ways to do it.”

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry no longer includes hand over mouth technique in their best practices, removing it from their clinical guidelines 16 years ago.

Medical records show in 2006, Dr Lubbe was accused of using excessive force in restraining a child but the case was later dismissed for lack of evidence.

Ms Sikes has filed her own complaint with the Department of Health Professions, the Office of Civil Rights and Chesterfield Police.

“The more people who hear about this, maybe someone will stop it,” Ms Sikes said.

Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics of Virginia released a statement saying: “Patient privacy laws do not allow us to comment on any specific situation, but our pediatric patients are offered a variety of calming options.”

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