Aim: This was to assess children's preferences for each of four different kinds of dental attire and to consider the relationship between children's preferences and levels of dental anxiety.
Methods: A group of 827 children aged 9-14 years looked at anonymised photographs and were asked to say which of four dental attires they would prefer their dentists to wear "if they had been to a dental clinic". Children's Fear Survey Schedule - Dental Subscale (CFSS-DS) was used to evaluate the children's anxiety level.
Results: Formal attire was the first preference for 45.6 % of the children (n: 377), followed by the child-friendly attire with a preference of 30.5% (n:144). There were 350 children (42.3%) who were diagnosed as anxious (CFSS-DS > or = 32) and 477 children (57.7%) were diagnosed as non-anxious (CFSS-DS <32). Anxious children were found to prefer the formal attire significantly less than non-anxious ones (p=0.010).
Conclusions: The popular view that children are fearful of white coats was not found in this survey. More children were observed to prefer the formal attire. However, the concept of "child-friendly" attire might be more appropriate for anxious children and enhance an easy first communication with them.