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Dent Clin North Am. 1988 Oct;32(4):693-704.

Pretreatment modeling. A technique for reducing children's fear in the dental operatory.

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  • 1Florida Mental Health Institute, University of Southern Florida, Tampa.


Research on modeling indicates that this technique offers dentists a means of reducing fear in child patients of all ages. As a preventive measure used with children who have had no prior exposure to dental treatment, it can be particularly efficacious. Based on the assumption that much of adult dental avoidance is based on dental fears acquired in childhood treatment, the reduction of children's dental fear would have a positive effect on the individual's tendency to seek out dental health care throughout his or her lifespan. For the dentist, there are also short- and long-term benefits. Dental management of the child is prerequisite to providing good dental care. Pedodontics as a specialty recognizes behavioral management of the child cannot be separated from the quality of the dentist's work. Fear has been identified as an important factor in disruptive behavior of school age children in the dental office. Practicing dentists consider the fearful, disruptive child to be among the most troublesome of problems in their clinical work. The child must cooperate or at least passively comply with the dentist's procedures in order to have the technical work completed. By reducing disruptive patient behavior (crying, screaming children whose peripheral and gross motor movements often make direct contact with the dentist or his equipment) the most unpalatable aspect of pediatric dentistry is minimized. Further, the actual time for treatment becomes shorter rather than longer. Although modeling is not restricted to videotape media, the emergence of current videotape technology provides the practitioner with the means for incorporating patient viewing of prerecorded modeling tapes as part of the usual waiting period. Such a procedure would mean that in the long run, the dentist will spend more time doing dentistry and less in behavioral management tasks.

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