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Ray L. Pollock & Associates, D.D.S., P.A. | Pediatric Dentistry Techniques for Reassuring Children: Tell-Show-Do in Melbourne

Ray L. Pollock & Associates, D.D.S., P.A.

Pediatric Dental Specialists - Children’s Dentistry - Orthodontics

 1325 Pine Street
Suite 103
Melbourne, FL 32901
(321) 724-4520

Pediatric Dentistry Techniques for Reassuring Children:



At my dental practice, Ray L. Pollock & Associates, D.D.S., P.A., my colleagues and I specialize in treating children. I have completed advanced, postgraduate training in Pediatric Dentistry and have developed strategies for assisting young people to overcome their fears and anxieties. One of these strategies is the Tell-Show-Do technique. Tell-Show-Do is an application of the learning theory principle that when a behavior is rewarded or positively acknowledged, it reoccurs more frequently. Termed ‘operant conditioning’ in psychological literature, this type of behavior shaping was developed by B.F. Skinner, a psychology professor at Harvard University from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s.


In dentistry, Tell-Show-Do consists of a gradual familiarization with the procedure to be undertaken, accompanied by immediate positive reinforcement when the patient makes an effort. Reinforcement involves both verbal and non-verbal methods, using smiles and nods to complement statements such as “Good job!” Tell-Show Do also emphasizes simple language, because some young patients become so fearful that they are unable to process more complex statements.


In the first part of the method, the dentist tells the child about the procedure to be performed, explaining the steps in uncomplicated terms and drawing associations with other, more familiar childhood experiences. One common approach for young children is to count their teeth, as many children enjoy counting exercises at school or at home.


In the show portion of the approach, children are introduced to the procedure in an exploratory way. When it is safe to do so, children are allowed to touch or handle the equipment so that they can examine the sounds, smells, sights, and sensations of the procedure, although threatening objects such as sharp, pointed instruments are sometimes hidden to avoid frightening the child. As the child gains confidence, he or she receives positive reinforcement.


Finally, once the child is sufficiently calm, the dentist performs the procedure, taking care to follow all steps exactly as described.  In order to mitigate any new anxieties, the dentist will sometimes also provide analogies for the sensations the child is able to feel, again using common childhood experiences that the patient can relate to.


Tell-Show-Do is a useful method for helping children to feel more comfortable at the dentist’s office. Although it is not appropriate in every case, Tell-Show-Do is a cornerstone of pediatric dentistry. It is successful with many children and even with some adults.


For more information or to book an appointment with Dr. Ray L. Pollock, visit www.raylpollockandassociates.com or call 321-724-4520.


Melbourne Dentist | Pediatric Dentistry Techniques for Reassuring Children: Tell-Show-Do. Ray Pollock is a Melbourne Dentist.