Can parents and children evaluate each other's dental fear?

Department of Community Dentistry, Institute of Dentistry, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland.
European Journal Of Oral Sciences (Impact Factor: 1.42). 06/2010; 118(3):254-8. DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0722.2010.00727.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The aim of this study was to determine whether parents and their 11-16-yr-old children can evaluate each other's dental fear. At baseline the participants were 11-12-yr-old children from the Finnish Cities of Pori (n = 1,691) and Rauma (n = 807), and one of their parents. The children and their parents were asked if they or their family members were afraid of dental care. Fears were assessed using single 5-point Likert-scale questions that included a 'do not know' option. Children and parents answered the questionnaire independently of each other. Background variables were the child's and their parent's gender. Parents' and children's knowledge of each other's dental fear was evaluated with kappa statistics and with sensitivity and specificity statistics using dichotomized fear variables. All kappa values were < 0.42. When dental fear among children and parents was evaluated, all sensitivities varied between 0.10 and 0.39, and all specificities varied between 0.93 and 0.99. Evaluating dental fear among fearful children and parents, the sensitivities varied between 0.17 and 0.50 and the specificities varied between 0.85 and 0.94, respectively. Parents and children could not recognize each other's dental fear. Therefore, parents and children cannot be used as reliable proxies for determining each other's dental fear.

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    ABSTRACT: Abstract Objective. The aim was to study longitudinal changes in dental fear among children and one of their parents separately for girls, boys, mothers and fathers over a 3.5-year period. Materials and methods. 11-12-year-old children in Pori, Finland (n = 1691) and one of their parents were invited to participate in this longitudinal study. Dental fear was measured in 2001, 2003 and 2005 when the children were 11-12, 13-14 and 15-16-years-old, respectively. The participants were asked if they were afraid of dental care (1 = 'not afraid', 2 = 'slightly afraid', 3 = 'afraid to some degree', 4 = 'quite afraid', 5 = 'very afraid' and 6 = 'I don't know'). The participants' gender was also registered. Mean values of the change scores were studied. Prevalence and incidence of dental fear and changes in dichotomized dental fear (responses 4-5 = high dental fear and responses 1-3 = low dental fear) were studied using cross-tabulations and Cochran's Q test. Results. Overall, the prevalence of dental fear slightly increased and female preponderance in dental fear became more evident during the follow-up. Of the mothers and children with high dental fear at the baseline, 24% and 56%, respectively, reported not to be fearful at the end of the follow-up. Conclusions. Dental fear seems to be more stable in adulthood than in childhood. Thus, it might be better to intervene in dental fear during childhood rather than during adulthood.
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