The aim of this study was to assess parental beliefs on the causes and prevention of child dental fear in the Netherlands. The parents of 123 children (67 high fearful and 56 low fearful children) were interviewed about the causes of their children's dental fears, and about factors contributing to the prevention of this fear. Parents attributed their child's dental fear to the following factors: invasive dental experiences (37 percent), medical problems (19 percent), child's temperament (16 percent), negative dentist behavior (13 percent) and social influences (5 percent). In the prevention of child dental fear, an empathetic dentist (34 percent) and parental guidance (30 percent) were mentioned most frequently. In conclusion, conditioning factors were reported to be highly important in the development of child dental fear. Some of the parents, however, indicated temperamental factors to have played a role, suggesting that subgroups of dentally fearful children exist. These temperamental or psychological factors seem also to contribute substantially to the development of dental fear. Possible differences in parental attributional style are discussed.