This interesting paper by Vanhee et al from Belgium, in the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, Nov. 2019, is an good piece of research digging into the drivers of dental anxiety in a group of over 500 Belgian children from 3 years to 17 years old. As adult phobia’s seem less amenable to change than childhood ones, the authors wanted to investigate associations triggering fear volunteered in different age groupings of children, with an aspiration to understanding and perhaps intervening in some of the causes.
There were significantly different triggers raised by younger versus older children, and unsurprisingly the prospect and experience of local anaesthesia as well as various forms of intervention dominated the fear and anxiety drivers. Notable also was the increased physiological stress experienced by clinicians when their patients were showing signs of anxiety or fear. Additionally some children experienced being reprimanded or told off by practitioners as more stressful than some operative elements. Lastly communication was a significant contributor to heightening or dampening anxiety and fear in a significant number of the children, with other office / reception staff playing a role in shaping the overall fear experience.
Reference: Vanhee et al, International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, ‘Stimuli involved in dental anxiety: What are patients afraid of? : a descriptive study’, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ipd.12595