Once the child achieves reasonable communication skills and has the ability to understand the spoken word, techniques other than physical restraint or pharmacological agents can be used to obtain cooperation for dental treatment. These techniques come under the heading of behavior modification. The two behavior modification techniques most used in pediatric dentistry are desensitization and positive and negative reinforcement (reward and punishment). For the younger patient, desensitization is the more appropriate technique to gain cooperation, since the finer concepts of positive and negative reinforcement may be beyond the comprehension of a toddler. For this reason, this course will concentrate on desensitization techniques.
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