Dental anxiety and psychological functioning in children: its relationship with behaviour during treatment
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Aim: In this study the relationship between the levels of dental anxiety, psychological functioning and earlier experience with dental injections are examined and the possible influence of these factors on children’s behaviour before and during a local anaesthesia injection. Methods: A total of 128 children (4–11 years) were included. The level of dental anxiety and the psychological functioning were measured using the ‘Children’s Fear Survey Schedule’ (CFSS-DS) and the ‘Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire’ (SDQ). Based on video recordings the anxiety behaviour was scored on the Venham-scale. Results: There was a positive correlation between levels of dental anxiety, psychological functioning and anxiety behaviour before and during the dental injection. In particular children with emotional problems or peer problems tended to show more anxiety behaviour before the injection and children with emotional or hyperactivity problems tend to show more anxiety behaviour during the injection. Furthermore, the younger children (below 6 years of age), with previous dental experience in the past 6 months, tended to display more anxiety behaviour both before and during the injection than children without or with experience from longer ago. Conclusion: The level of dental anxiety and psychological functioning and recent previous dental experience are important factors in determining which child is likely to display more anxiety and uncooperative behaviour during treatment and therefore potentially need more attention to be able to cope well with dental treatment.
Key wordschildren distress temperament behaviour, anxiety
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