Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry
Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry
                                                   Official journal of the Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry                           
Year : 2009  |  Volume : 27  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 22--26

Children's behavior pattern and behavior management techniques used in a structured postgraduate dental program

A Sharath1, P Rekka1, MS Muthu1, V Rathna Prabhu1, N Sivakumar2,  
1 Meenakshi Ammal Dental College, Chennai, India
2 Narayana Dental College, Nellore, India

Correspondence Address:
A Sharath
Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Meenakshi Ammal Dental College, Alapakkam Main Road, Chennai - 600 095


Background : Anxiety and fear remain the primary emotion of a child entering a dental office. Successful pediatric dentistry depends not only on the dentist俟Q製 technical skills, but also on his ability to acquire and maintain a child俟Q製 cooperation. Methods: A retrospective study was done using the case records of 247 children, to evaluate their behavior patterns, based on the Wright俟Q製 modification of Frankl俟Q製 behavior rating scale. Various behavior management techniques like the tell-show-do, reinforcements, voice control, and hand over mouth exercise used in the postgraduate section of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Meenakshi Ammal Dental College, Chennai, India, were also evaluated in this study. Results: Behavior of the children improved on the subsequent visits. Tell-show-do was the most common behavior management technique used and more aversive management techniques were rarely used in managing children in the dental office. Conclusion: Proper assessment of children俟Q製 behavior helps the dentist to plan appointments and render effective and efficient dental treatment. Appropriate use of management techniques can improve the child俟Q製 behavior in subsequent dental visits.

How to cite this article:
Sharath A, Rekka P, Muthu M S, Prabhu V R, Sivakumar N. Children's behavior pattern and behavior management techniques used in a structured postgraduate dental program.J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent 2009;27:22-26

How to cite this URL:
Sharath A, Rekka P, Muthu M S, Prabhu V R, Sivakumar N. Children's behavior pattern and behavior management techniques used in a structured postgraduate dental program. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent [serial online] 2009 [cited 2020 Nov 24 ];27:22-26
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Full Text

" Although the operative dentistry may be perfect the appointment is a failure if the child departs in tears" -

Mc Elroy (1895)

Behavioral dentistry is an interdisciplinary science. The objective of the science is to develop in a dental practitioner an understanding of the interpersonal social force that influences a patient's behavior. The foundation of practicing dentistry on children is the ability to guide them through their dental experiences. This ability is a prerequisite to provide their immediate dental needs. The concept of treating the patient and not just the tooth should be the operative with all patients, but is essential with a child patient.

One major aspect of child management in the dental chair is managing dental anxiety, a worldwide problem and universal barrier to oral health care. The dentist treating a child patient almost always assesses one aspect of behavior - cooperativeness. Cooperative behavior is the key to render treatment. According to Wright (1975), children can be generally classified in one of the three ways: cooperative, lacking cooperative ability or potentially cooperative. There are many behavior-rating scales available to assess and evaluate the behavior of a child on each dental visit. The child's behavior on every dental visit depends on variables like age, parental behavior, parental anxiety, past medical / dental history, the awareness of their dental problem, type of dental procedure, the behavior management, and the procedural techniques followed by the dentist. [1]

According to Folayan and Idehen, behavior management strategies range from informal and common sense techniques to formal relaxation techniques. [2] Formal relaxations vary from pre-appointment preparations to modeling procedures during the dental visit. Tell-show-do (TSD) introduced by Addelston in 1959, remains the corner stone of behavior management techniques followed by dentists. Machen and Johnson showed that the time spent per child has diminished when compared with the period before the approach was introduced. [3] Distraction, physical contact in the form of patting and stroking also tend to be effective in reducing anxiety that may accompany dental care. [4] A technique found to be effective in preventing dental anxiety developing in a child, who has a potential to do so, is the use of positive reinforcement. Here, the child is praised and given gifts when he shows acts of cooperation. The desensitization technique is effective for children who have developed dental anxiety. It entails gradual exposure of the child to dental treatments for short periods of time starting from noninvasive procedures. Pinkham JR has shown that it is a time consuming technique, but very rewarding as the child eventually becomes comfortable with the dental procedures. [5] These established psychological strategies have been found to be more effective because the strategies enhance trust, feelings of control, and the development of coping skills in both the child and professionals. This retrospective study was planned with the following aims and objectives:

To assess the behavior pattern of children during their dental visitsTo evaluate the behavior management techniques used in managing the children during their dental visitsAge-wise and sex-wise comparisons of data collected

 Materials and Methods

Case records of 247 children (144 boys and 103 girls) who had had a minimum of three visits to the Department of Pedodontics, Meenakshi Ammal Dental College, Chennai, India, were used to carry out this retrospective study. All the children were examined and treated by the same pediatric dentist. Wright's modification of Frankl's behavior rating scale was used to assess the behavior of all the children in each of their visits to the dental office. Behavior was recorded in their case records in every visit by the same examiner. Case records were categorized into four groups based on the ages of the children [Table 1]: Group I (45) included 22 boys and 23 girls in the age range of 3-6 years; Group II (115) 66 boys and 49 girls, between 6 and 9 years of age; Group III (72) included 48 boys and 24 girls in the age range of 9-12 years; and Group IV (15) eight boys and seven girls, above 12 years of age. Behavior management techniques used by the dentist in managing the children during the three visits were also evaluated. They were categorized as Tell-show-do (TSD), Voice control (VC), Hand over mouth exercise (HOME), and others (presence of mother, reinforcements, retraining, modeling). The type of behavior management technique used on each visit was noted in the case records. Any improvement or deterioration of behavior during the same visit was also recorded. Comparison of the proportion of behavior and behavior management techniques between different age groups during the three visits, and comparison of the proportion of behavior and behavior management techniques between the males and females of each group during the three visits were done. The proportions were compared by either the Chi-Square test, Chi-Square test with Yates continuity correction or Fisher's exact test (two-tailed), appropriately. In the present study, p and Venham and Cipes, have shown that the behavior of children improves in subsequent dental visits, [6],[7],[8] and their results are in accordance with this study. Koenigsberg and Johnson have shown that behavior cannot be predicted from the preceding appointment. [9] Venham L has shown that the younger group of children became more apprehensive on their subsequent visits. [10] However, both the studies quoted above have considered the effect of treatment procedures on the behavior of children. Folayan and Ufomata have shown that there is no association between age and gender with behavior of the child, [11] which is again in accordance with the present study.

Allen and Stanley demonstrated that traditional behavior management techniques like Tell-show-do, restraints, Hand over mouth exercise, and sedation were better than the newer ones like modeling and contingency management. [12] Carr and Wilson showed that the Southeastern US dentists used less aversive techniques and there was a marked reduction in the use of the Hand over mouth exercise. [13] Peretz and Ram showed that the Israel dentists used Tell-show-do and material reinforcement more than any other behavior management strategies. [14] Adair et al , emphasized that the AAPD members used communicative skills more often, with the exception of the Hand over mouth exercise. [15] All the above-mentioned reports have been in favor of the results of this study and they emphasize the significance of Tell-show-do in the field of behavioral pediatric dentistry.

 Summary and Conclusions

The findings and the results of this study can be summarized as follows

Better behavioral response was seen on subsequent visitsFrankl 3 (+) was the most common behavioral pattern seenTell-show-do was the most common management technique usedReduction in the use of more aversive techniques on subsequent visitsThere was no significant difference between boys and girls in their behavior pattern and the management techniques used

Behavior assessment helps us to plan appointments and provide quality oral health care to children. Proper use of management techniques improves behavior on subsequent visits, making things easy for the child patient and the pediatric dentist. Assessment and evaluation helps us to reinforce our beliefs in our own techniques.


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