Honors Project: The Psychology of Treating Child Patients

Brandy A. Lopez
Child patient and dental staff
Dental staff survey
College student survey
In the United States it was found that 23% of 895 5-11 year olds
showed dental anxiety.
Dental anxiety occurs via 3 pathways:
Direct conditioning
Maternal Dental Anxiety
Academy of
Pediatric Dentistry:
voice control,
distraction and
social learning
Dental Terminology
Word Substitutes
Rubber dam
Rubber raincoat
Rubber dam clamp
Tooth button
Rubber dam frame
Coat rack
Tooth paint
Topical Fluoride Gel
Cavity Fighter
Air syringe
Wind gun
Water syringe
Water gun
Vacuum cleaner
Study Models
High Speed
Low Speed
American Academy of
Pediatric Dentistry:
 Papoose board
Dental Staff Survey
 Majority consensus
The behavior of the parent/guardian that brings the child affects the
behavior of the child.
Social learning theory (tell-show-do technique) is a vital element in
acquiring child cooperation.
It is possible to diagnose the level of dental anxiety of a patient within
the first few minutes of meeting with dental caregiver.
Having the television on relaxes the patient.
Norman Corah's Dental Anxiety Scale:
SLU College Students
NC Part 1
Survey Answer Percentage
NC Part 2
NC Average
Low Dental Anxiety
Moderate Dental
High Dental Anxiety
Don't Know
College Student Survey
 55.12% of college students have low dental anxiety
21.97% of college students have moderate dental anxiety
18.32% of college students have high dental anxiety
Greatest anxiety triggers:
Waiting for the dentist to begin drilling on the patient’s teeth
Root canal treatment
Not being numb enough for the treatment procedure
1 Miligrom P, Mancl L, King B, Weinstein P.
Origins of childhood fear.
Behav Res Ther 1995; 33: 313-329.
2 Klingberg G, Berggren U, Carlsson SG,
Noren JG. Child dental fear:
cause-related factors and clinical effects.
Eur J Oral Sci 1995; 103: 405412.
3 Klingberg G, Berggren U. Dental problem
behaviors in children of
parents with severe dental fear. Swed Dent
J 1992; 16: 27-32.
4 American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
Guidelines 2001-02. Chicago,
IL: AAPD, 2002.
5 Bandura A. Social Learning Theory.
Morristown, NJ: General Learning
Press, 1971.
1. If you had to go to the dentist tomorrow for a check-up, how would you feel about it?
16.3% a. I would look forward to it as a reasonably enjoyable experience.
41.9% b. I wouldn't care one way or the other.
32.6% c. I would be a little uneasy about it.
d. I would be afraid that it would be unpleasant and painful.
e. I would be very frightened of what the dentist would do.
2. When you are waiting in the dentist's office for your turn in the chair, how do you feel?
39.5% a. Relaxed.
25.6% b. A little uneasy.
16.3% c. Tense.
16.3% d. Anxious.
2.3% e. So anxious that I sometimes break out in a sweat or almost feel physically sick.
3. When you are in the dentist's chair waiting while the dentist gets the drill ready to begin working on your teeth, how do you feel?
23.3% a. Relaxed.
34.9% b. A little uneasy.
16.3% c. Tense.
20.9% d. Anxious.
4.7% e. So anxious that I sometimes break out in a sweat or almost feel physically sick.
4. Imagine you are in the dentist's chair to have your teeth cleaned. While you are waiting and the dentist or hygienist is getting out the
instruments which will be used to scrape your teeth around the gums, how do you feel?
32.6% a. Relaxed.
34.9% b. A little uneasy.
14.0% c. Tense.
18.6% d. Anxious.
0% e. So anxious that I sometimes break out in a sweat or almost feel physically sick.
a = 1, b = 2, c = 3, d = 4, e = 5
Total possible = 20
Anxiety rating:
 9 - 12 = moderate anxiety but have specific
stressors that should be discussed and
 managed
 13 - 14 = high anxiety
 15 - 20 = severe anxiety (or phobia).

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