The effect of parental presence and dental anxiety on children's fear during dental procedures: A randomized trial

Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2022 Jan 17;13591045211067556. doi: 10.1177/13591045211067556. Online ahead of print.


Objective: To evaluate the effect of anxiety of parent accompanying child on child's anxiety during treatment.

Methods: The study included two groups: one group with 80 children whose parents were anxious, and the other group with 80 children with non-anxious parents, totaling 160 children. Each group was further randomized into subgroups, with and without parents accompanying their children. The children's heart rates were measured using a portable pulse oximeter during the treatment. The child's perception was measured using the Wong-Baker Faces Rating Scale, and another pediatric dentist rated child's behavior using the Frankl scale based on the treatment video that was limited to the child's appearance.

Results: The highest pulse rates were observed in children accompanied by an anxious parent (p < .001). Values on the Wong-Baker scale did not differ according to parental anxiety and parental presence (p > .05). According to the dentist, the presence of parents negatively affected the anxiety of the child (p = .025), while the effect of parents' anxiety was not statistically significant (p = .514).

Conclusions: The anxiety of parent accompanying the child affects child's anxiety. Parents with high anxiety appeared to negatively affect their children's behavior.

Keywords: Behavior; Frankl scale; dental anxiety; heart rates; parental presence.