Dental fear is a multifactorial problem frequently encountered during dental treatment of children. Studies have indicated that, among others, the behavior of the dentist may play a part in the development of this dental fear. The present study was undertaken to examine the behavioral aspects of the dentist-patient relationship, and specific dentists' behavior that can reduce dental fear. The behavior of forty children referred to a center for special dental care and of two dentists was assessed during treatment. T-test results showed that the children's level of fear decreased after treatment (mean 3.2 vs. 2.1, t = -5.6, p = .000). In addition, it was found that the dentists behaved more directly and authoritatively during the treatment of highly fearful children than during the treatment of relatively less fearful children (p < or = .034). It seems that this direct approach had a positive, long-term effect on these children's fearful behavior during treatment.