skip over navigation links
Maternal and Child Health Bureau logoA Health Professionals Guide to Pediatric Oral Health Management
HomeModuleModule 1: An Introduction to Infants' and Young Children's Oral HealthModule 2: Managing Infants' and Young Children's Oral HealthModule 3: Oral Conditions and AbnormalitiesModule 4: Prevention of Oral DiseaseModule 5: Non-Nutritive Sucking HabitsModule 6: Oral InjuryModule 7: Infants and Young Children with Special Health Care NeedsContentsGlossaryEvaluationHelp
Module 2: Managing Infants' and Young Children's Oral Health
Module Contents
2.1 Oral Development

Tooth Eruption and Loss
2.2 Interview and Risk Assessment

During & After Pregnancy
During Infancy
During Early Childhood
2.3 Oral Screening
2.4 Behavior Management (current page)
2.5 Oral Examination
2.6 Anticipatory Guidance

For Pregnant Women,
New Mothers, or Other Intimate Caregivers
For Parents of Infants

For Parents of
Young Children

2.7 The Dental Home
Key Points
Additional Resources

2.4 Behavior Management

photo of dentist examining girlSome young children may be anxious, fearful, and/or uncooperative during the oral screening, which can make the process challenging. The following guidance may help health professionals manage young children during the screening.[5]

  • Express concern. Ask the child how she is feeling or whether she is comfortable.

  • Give specific directions. Use direct and specific requests (e.g., “please open your mouth now,” “turn this way”).

  • Praise all cooperative behaviors. Compliment a child who is sitting still and cooperating.

  • Use positive suggestions. Positive suggestions (e.g., “Today we are going to clean your teeth with a magic toothbrush”) have been shown to decrease resistant behaviors.

  • Keep cool. Do not show anger in response to a child who is upset.

previous pagenext page

logo: U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau