Title: Relationship between caries prevalence at 5 years of age and dental anxiety at 10
Abstract: Aim The aim of this study was to explore a possible relationship between the individual prevalence of caries in 5-year-old children and dental anxiety in the same children when they became 10 years of age. Material and methods A group of 217 children was examined clinically and radiographically for caries at 5 years of age when initial, as well as manifest caries lesions, were recorded. A total of 180 children were available for follow-up at 10 years of age, and dental anxiety was measured by the use of the psychometric questionnaire CFSS-DS. Results The mean dmfs at 5 years of age was 5.4 (SDą7.3) and the mean CFSS-DS at 10 years of age 22.5 (SDą6.8). The correlation coefficient between dmfs and CFSS-DS was 0.255 (p < 0.001). Children with high dental anxiety (CFSS-DS sum score higher than one SD above the mean) (N = 22) had a mean dmfs of 10.7, while those with lower dental anxiety had dmfs of 4.7 (p < 0.001). The majority (68%) of the children with high dental anxiety had more than five carious lesions at 5 years of age. Conclusion Children with many carious lesions at the age of 5 years are at high risk for being dentally anxious at 10 years of age. Classical conditioning, including procedural pain and other negative experiences during dental treatment as the unconditioned stimuli, is the most likely reason for this.