Over the years, we have evaluated numerous approaches to helping our students more successfully tolerate and participate in dental exams.  To that end, a series of projects on graduated exposure to dental exams (“dental desensitization”) was initiated.  In these studies, we have evaluated the role of brief breaks during practice dental exams, the role of rewards during practice dental exams, the timing of practice dental exams, and the extent to which we can practice dental exam components in a more familiar and convenient environment.  Our results to date suggest that arranging breaks and rewards for cooperation during practice dental exams yields the greatest cooperation, and that frequent practice exams produce far greater improvements than occasional practice.  Further, our research suggests that practicing dental exam components in a simulated dental environment produces a significant improvement in our students’ performance during actual dental exams.