The use of behavior modification techniques to successfully manage the child dental patient

J Am Dent Assoc. 1977 Feb;94(2):329-34. doi: 10.14219/jada.archive.1977.0273.


Techniques of desensitization, modeling, and contingency management that can be used in the dental office for reducing anxiety and encouraging appropriate behavior in children are discussed. The "tell, show and do" approach is one desensitization technique easily applied in the private practice. Language should be at the child's level of understanding. An older sibling will frequently serve as an excellent model for a fearful child. Social reinforcers-a handshake, a smile, or praise-should be dispensed throughout dental treatment. Rewards should only follow desired behavior.

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy* / methods
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Dentist-Patient Relations
  • Desensitization, Psychologic
  • Humans
  • Motion Pictures
  • Oral Hygiene
  • Pediatric Dentistry*
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Relaxation Therapy