Degree of dental anxiety in children with and without toothache: prospective assessment.

International journal of paediatric dentistry / the British Paedodontic Society [and] the International Association of Dentistry for Children

PubMedID: 22436029

Ramos-Jorge J, Marques LS, Homem MA, Paiva SM, Ferreira MC, Oliveira Ferreira F, Ramos-Jorge ML. Degree of dental anxiety in children with and without toothache: prospective assessment. Int J Paediatr Dent. 2013;23(2):125-30.
BACKGROUND
Few prospective studies on the anxiety of children in the dental office have been published.

AIMS
To monitor dental anxiety levels in children with and without previous experience with toothache over a period of six consecutive visits.

DESIGN
A longitudinal study was carried out involving 167 children treated at a public dental service. Levels of anxiety in the dental setting were assessed in children without toothache (G1) and those with toothache (G2) using the modified Venham picture test (VPT). Data acquisition was carried out over a 6-week period, with each child treated in the dental office once a week. Six assessments of anxiety were performed in the waiting room prior to dental treatment.

RESULTS
A significant reduction in anxiety scores occurred between appointments in both groups. In the inter-group comparison, G2 had significantly higher anxiety scores than G1. Although statistically significant reductions in anxiety scores occurred through to the fifth appointment, a tendency toward stagnation in anxiety scores was observed beginning with the fourth appointment.

CONCLUSIONS
Dental anxiety scores were reduced over the course of six appointments. Children with toothache had higher levels of dental anxiety than those that had never experienced toothache.