1404 Are parents struggling or coping with their children’s dental fear?

Saturday, March 24, 2012: 9:45 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Presentation Type: Poster Session
M. HEIMA1, S. PARK2, J. PICKRELL3, F. GHASSEMI2, M. CHIANG2, T. RANGINWALA2, and G. FERRETTI1, 1Dept. of Pediatric Dentistry, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, 2Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, 3University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Background: Children of minority populations, such as Low-income African Americans (LIAA), are known to have greater than average oral health problems. Additionally, a child’s dental fear or anxiety is often manifested in the dental setting. While dentists often rely on information from the parent to aid in management of the child’s behavior, dentists report encountering a number of parents who are uncertain about how to effectively support their children in the dental setting.

Objectives: To investigate current parental practices of LIAA’s management and perception of difficulties with behaviors of their dentally fearful children.

Method: 20 LIAA parents with children 3-9 years of age were recruited to complete a series of questionnaires designed to evaluate current parental practices related to handling their child’s dental fears.  Questionnaires included reporting demographic information, parents’ comfortableness of child’s dental fear handling (CDFH: one to five scale),  parents’ dental anxiety (DAS), parents’ version of the child's dental fear (CFSS-DS), and seven parental skills and effectiveness of those skills (SKILLS, 0: I don’t use it; 1: It works; 2: It sometimes works; 3: It doesn’t work). After descriptive analyses, participants were then dichotomized into two groups, based on scoring on the CDFH, the comfortable group (CG) scored >3 and the uncomfortable group (UG), <=3.

Results: 20% (n=4) of parents’ scores identified them as uncomfortable. Parents’ age, children’s age and gender, DAS and CFSS-DS were not significantly different between groups. UG parents tend to use more varied parental skills than CG parents (CG=3.6 UG=6.0, t=2.07, df=18, p=0.053). UG’s average score of SKILLS are significantly less effective than those in the CG. (CG=5.8, UG=12.5, t=3.41, df=18, p=0.003).

Conclusion: LIAA who do not feel comfortable handling their children's dental fear tend to use a greater number and variety of parenting techniques and still feel less effective than desired.

This abstract is based on research that was funded entirely or partially by an outside source: NIH/NIDCR 1R44DE019043-01A1

Keywords: Anxiety, Behavioral science, Effectiveness, Pedodontics and Stress