Child dental fear and general emotional problems: a pilot study

J.B. Krikken, J.M. ten Cate, J.S.J. Veerkamp

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    AIM: This was to investigate the relation between general emotional and behavioural problems of the child and dental anxiety and dental behavioural management problems. BACKGROUND: Dental treatment involves many potentially unpleasant stimuli, which all may lead to the development of dental anxiety and behavioural management problems (BMP). It is still unclear why some children get anxious in the dental situation while others, with a comparable dental history, do not. Besides the latent inhibition theory it is suggested that this can be explained by differences in child rearing and personality traits. METHODS: The sample consisted of 50 children (4-12 years old) and their parents participated in this study. Parents filled out the Child Fear Survey Schedule Dental Subscale (CFSS-DS) and the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL) on behalf of their child. Child behaviour during consecutive dental treatments was assessed using the Venham scale. RESULTS: There were 39 children subject to analysis (21 boys) with a mean CFSS score of 40.4. Children aged 4 and 5 years who had sleeping problems, attention problems and aggressive behaviour, as scored by parents on the CBCL, displayed more disruptive behaviour during dental treatment. Children with emotionally/ reactive and attention problems were more anxious. CONCLUSION: In this pilot study a possible relation between general emotional and behavioural problems of young children and dental anxiety was shown. Also a relation between emotional and behavioural problems and dental behavioural management problems was shown. Because of the small number of subjects in our study, further research will be needed to confirm these results.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)283-286
    JournalEuropean Archives of Paediatric Dentistry
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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