Relationship between Child and Parental Dental Anxiety with Child’s Psychological Functioning and Behavior during the Administration of Local Anesthesia.


OBJECTIVES: The aims of this study were to determine: 1) the relationship between children’s psychological functioning, dental anxiety and cooperative behavior before and during local anesthesia, 2) the relationship of parental dental anxiety with all the above child characteristics. STUDY DESIGN: There was a convenient sample of 100 children (4-12 years). Child dental anxiety and psychological functioning were measured using the ‘Children’s Fear Survey Schedule’ (CFSS-DS) and the ‘Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire’ (SDQ) respectively. Parental dental anxiety was measured using the ‘Modified Dental Anxiety Scale’ (MDAS). All questionnaires were completed by parents. Before and during local anesthesia, the child behavior was scored by one experienced examiner, using the Venham scale. Non-parametric tests and correlations (Mann-Whitney, Spearman’s rho) were used for the analysis. RESULTS: The mean SDQ score was 10+/-5.6 for boys (n=60) and 8.3+/-4.8 for girls (n=40) (p=0.038), but there was no correlation with children’s age. The mean CFSS-DS score was 33.1+/-11.86 and there was no correlation with age or gender. Children with higher levels in the pro-social subscale of the SDQ had significantly less anxiety and better behavior before local anesthesia. Higher mean CFSS-DS scores were significantly associated with uncooperative behavior during local anesthesia (p=0.04). There was no correlation between parents’ and their children’s dental anxiety, psychological functioning and behavior. 46% of the children had previous dental experience in the last 6 months. As time since the last dental treatment increased, an improvement was found in children’s behavior during local anesthesia. CONCLUSIONS: Child psychological functioning was related to dental anxiety and behavior during dental appointment involving local anesthesia.