November 2019 Volume LIV Number 6


Resident's Corner

May 2019 Volume LIV Number 3

 Out-of-the-Hat: Magic Tricks as an Alternative in Behavior Guidance Techniques
Pediatric dentistry is the art of behavior guidance. In residency, we hone in on our skills of Tell-Show-Do, voice control, desensitization and positive reinforcement – just to name a few. Sometimes, we must dig into our specialized toolbox and offer more advanced behavior guidance techniques such as sedation. Nevertheless, we can probably all recall that one appointment that did not go according to plan, and scrutinize our every move. Why did I lose the patient? What could I have done differently?
If you have social media, you probably have stumbled across Dr. Eyal Simchi, a pediatric dentist in Elmwood Park, N.J., who employs magic as one of his unique behavior guidance techniques. He can connect with timid, shy children, transforming a previously nega- tive experience into a positive one. In one of the videos, he puts an anxious patient to ease by tweeting like a bird under his mask while the patient squishes his nose. This seems rather simple, but is in fact brilliant. The child initially appears withdrawn, but after 30-seconds of bird chirping, he is giggly and ready to embark on treatment.
Simchi’s interest in magic began one day when he was strolling around the local mall with his wife and saw a magic trick at one of the kiosks. This trick was none other than Prisma Lites, invented by the magician Rocco Silano in 1994. Simchi was immediately perplexed by the salesperson tossing a ball of light from one hand to the other. He was urged by his wife to buy the trick, which he then employed occasionally on patients in dental school and residency. Now, he knows over thirty magic tricks which he uses to connect with his patients. In addition to magic, he utilizes other minimally invasive techniques such as SDF, ART and Hall Crowns.
He explains that his primary goal is to stabilize the dentition and to not traumatize the patient. He wants his patients to understand that he is not the scary dentist. If a patient comes into the office terri- fied, the first visit will be a desensitization appointment where he will spend time speaking to the patient, probably show some magic tricks, and the patient will leave happy with a bag of presents. The objective for Simchi is simple – to keep patients happy. This is only possible by thinking creatively on how to handle each situation.
Dr. Allison Davis is a second year pediatric dental resident at the NYU Langone Pediatric Dentistry Residency in Tucson, Ariz. Her interest in magic began after attending a party at the Magic Castle – a sort of country club for magicians. It was here where she enrolled in classes and was able to practice her newly acquired skills on her peers. Her first trick was a basic card trick that she used to entertain patients at a mobile dental clinic she worked on during her third year of dental school at the University of Southern California. This al- lowed her to not only develop a relationship with her patients, but to also make them excited about dentistry.
Davis has combined the principles of magic to dentistry. In residency, she uses magic as a form of introduction with her patients. One of her tricks is to transform three short pieces of floss into one long string. Another, is to make a coin disappear in a rubber dam. Magic provides the perfect segue for her patients to become excited about dentistry and for her to delve into the pediatric dentist mindset– one of euphemisms of the art of distraction.
The bottom line is that you must be true to your authentic self when employing out-of-the-box behavior guidance techniques. At the end of the day, you must "remember that a tooth is attached to a person," as Simchi recounts. Half the battle of pediatric dentistry is connecting with the patient in a meaningful way and becoming his/ her Dental Home. You should take time to contemplate your unique interests and attempt to use them to foster meaningful relationships. Whether it is rewording Tell-Show-Do to a hit Disney song or performing Prisma Lites for your next patient, you have the ability to cre- atively change an otherwise negative experience into a positive one.
About the Author
Dr. Jessica M. Baron is a first year pediatric dental resident at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y. She grew up in Charleston, S.C., and completed her undergraduate education at Duke University in 2010 with a B.A. in public policy and minor in art history. She graduated from the James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in 2015. She has earned a general practice residency certificate from Yale-New Haven Hospital and a dental oncology certificate from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. In her free time, Bar- on likes to go to Broadway musicals, travel, cook, read, explore the Big Apple and try new restaurants with her friends.

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