Dental patient's mother files complaint over 'hand over mouth' technique used at Virginia practice

A Virginia mother has filed a complaint after a dentist allegedly used a "hand over mouth" technique during her daughter's appointment, ABC 8News reported Oct. 19.

Tracy Sikes told ABC 8News that her 9-year-old daughter was left distraught after her appointment at Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics of Virginia's Midlothian location. Ms. Sikes said Steven Lubbe, DMD, used a technique called "hand over mouth" and that dental assistants restrained her daughter's hands to try to calm her daughter down during a procedure.

"She told me that the dentist clamped his hand over her mouth and leaned down and told her to stop crying," Sikes told ABC 8News.

Ms. Sikes said her daughter's father was in the waiting room and signed a consent form that stated the practice could "gently stabilize the child's head to control leg movement," but that they were not made aware of the hand over mouth technique.

Ms. Sikes filed complaints against the practice with the state's Department of Health Professions, the Office of Civil Rights and Chesterfield (Va.) police.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry told ABC 8News the technique was eliminated from their clinical guidelines 16 years ago. The Virginia Department of Health Professions told the news station that the state's board of dentistry does not have a governing regulation or guidance document that addresses use of the technique.

Police told ABC 8News they consulted with the Commonwealth's Attorney and decided the incident was not a crime.

The practice sent a statement to ABC 8News that said the practice cannot comment on specific incidents due to patient privacy laws, adding that "pediatric patients are offered a variety of calming options. If a patient were to become upset, we immediately stop the cleaning or procedure and help them feel comfortable prior to moving forward or rescheduling."

The practice declined to comment when contacted by Becker's.

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