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Dental Glossary

Hand Over Mouth

Technique used to calm and quiet a truly hysterical child. The doctors hand is gently and carefully placed over the child's mouth and the child is repeatedly told that the hand will be removed as soon as the child is quiet. The technique is almost always successful with children over the age of 21. The rationale is that a noisy child creates a chain of distraction from his own mouth to his own ear, through which the doctor cannot communicate. When the noise is removed from the child's self-induced hysteria, the child hears that he will regain control of his situation if he cooperates with quiet. Once communication is established, then other behavior management techniques can be used to continue treatment. Of course, this technique is used with the prior approval of the parents.