Title: Dental anxiety in a subpopulation of African children: parents ability to predict and its relation to general anxiety and behaviour in the dental chair
Abstract: Aim This was to investigate the ability of Nigerian parents to predict their child’s dental anxiety level and the relationship between the child’s dental anxiety, general anxiety and behaviour in the dental chair. Methods A group of 53 mothers and 35 fathers and their respective children completed schedules that measured general and dental anxiety. The child’s behaviour on the dental chair was also assessed. The child’s self report of dental anxiety and general anxiety was compared with that of the parents. Dental anxiety ratings by the children and parents were correlated with the behaviour assessment of the dentist. Statistical significance was determined at <0.05. Results There was no statistically significant difference between the parent’s assessment of their child’s dental anxiety level and the child’s self report (t=0.389; p=0.689). However, the mothers were able to rate their child’s dental anxiety level better than the fathers (r=0.497 and p<0.001 for mothers, r=-0.049 and p=0.789 for fathers). Also there was a moderate correlation between the child’s self reported dental anxiety and general anxiety levels (r=0.58, p<0.05) and a low correlation between the clinical behaviour ratings and the child’s self reported dental anxiety level (r=0.10, p>0.05). Conclusion The Nigerian mothers could be relied upon to make objective assessment of their child’s dental anxiety. General anxiety appears to play a significant role in dental anxiety development in Nigerian children who appear to behave well in the dental chair despite their reported dental anxiety levels.