Aim: Dental fear (DF) in children is a multifactorial problem that may affect the child's dental treatment and behavior at the dental office. This study aimed to evaluate the familial characteristics affecting DF among Arabic-speaking 12- to 15-year-old children in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Materials and methods: A cross-sectional study assessing 16 middle schools in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, was performed through multistage stratified random sampling. DF among children was measured using the children fear survey schedule-dental subscale (CFSS-DS) questionnaire. A parental questionnaire was used to collect information regarding familial socioeconomic status, parental DF, and DF among siblings and friends. The data were analyzed using the t test, one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), and multiple linear regression analysis.
Results: A total of 1,522 children were included. Socioeconomic variables were not associated with DF among children. Parental DF, parental dental experiences, siblings’ DF, and friends’ DF were significantly associated with DF in children. In the regression analysis, mothers’ anxiety at the last dental visit, siblings’ DF, and friends’ DF were significant predictors of DF among children.
Conclusion: DF in children is associated with mothers’ anxiety during their last dental visit and DF in siblings or friends.
Clinical significance: Obtaining comprehensive dental, family, and social history from patients is as essential as asking about medical history for pediatric dentists to plan the most appropriate and effective behavioral management techniques for their pediatric patients. Understanding the etiology of DF assists clinicians to provide better oral health services for their fearful patients.
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