Objective: The aim was to (1) assess the proportion of children with dental fear, to (2) compare results obtained by a single fear question to those obtained by using a set of 11 fear questions, to (3) study associations between children's dental fear and their dental health, and to (4) compare children's dental fears to those of their parents.
Materials and methods: A cross-sectional sample of 344 8-10-year-old schoolchildren from South Estonian primary schools participated. Children's fears were measured with the modified Dental Subscale of the Children's Fear Survey Schedule (CFSS-DS). The scale includes 11 fear items amongst which five represent less invasive (noninvasive items), another five invasive aspects of dental treatment (invasive items), and one question represents general dental fear of the child. In addition, two questions were included to assess parental dental fear. The dental health of children was examined using the International Caries Detection and Assessment System (ICDAS) criteria.
Results: The proportion of children with general dental fear was 6.1%. The mean score of noninvasive fears was higher among the youngest than among the oldest age group (p<0.02). Children whose dmft/DMFT-scores were >0 had higher fear scores than those whose dmft/DMFT-scores were =0 (p<0.01). A total of 16.8% and 15.7% of mothers and fathers afraid of dentistry in general. There were strong correlations between children's dental fears and maternal (p<0.01), and paternal (p<0.01) dental fear.
Conclusions: Children's fears were strongly associated with untreated caries and experience of dental treatment, and with parental fears.