Neil Aleger, DDS, a dental fellow at Children’s National, builds trust with his young patients by acknowledging any fears they might have while in the dental chair. Even the simplest procedure can involve anxiety-producing noises and feelings.

Omid, at age 8 had 10 procedures in one year. "He's always had a hard time at the dentist,” says his mom, Zeinab. “As a parent, it’s really painful to watch.”

Dr. Aleger had a plan. He asked Omid about his favorite books, cartoons and music, creating a personal connection and making him feel at ease. During Omid’s visit, Dr. Aleger played his favorite songs, “Sunflower” and “Waka Waka.” For the first time, the patient was not thinking about pain or anxiety. He focused on the music.

Zeinab saw her son not in pain but trying to sing along. “I told Omid he acted like a hero that day,” she says. “I was amazed at Dr. Aleger’s skill.

Childhood experiences can have long-term ramifications for how a child reacts to dental care, both in the office and at home. Reducing their anxiety can have an impact on treatment outcomes and kids’ overall well-being.

“I am very grateful that I was able to treat Omid,” says Dr. Aleger. “Serving our patients is an amazing privilege and I feel fortunate that I am allowed to take care of children every day.”

A young patient at Children's National Hospital.

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A young patient at Children's National Hospital.