Study examines correlation between maternal dental anxiety and oral health status of children

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Study examines correlation between maternal dental anxiety and oral health status of children


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According to a study, the dental anxiety of mothers has a negative effect on the oral health of their children. (Photograph: Photo Spirit/Shutterstock)
Dental Tribune International

By Dental Tribune International

Fri. 21. June 2019


MURADNAGAR, India: Many people with dental anxiety avoid regular visits to the dentist, which in turn can lead to a deterioration in their oral health and further increase their anxiety. A recent study by researchers from the Department of Public Health Dentistry at I.T.S Dental College in Muradnagar in India has shown that mothers’ dental anxiety has a direct impact on their children’s oral health, as it is usually the mother who has the greatest impact on the child during the first years of life.

The researchers examined 200 mother–child pairs in a cross-sectional study. The oral health status of the children, who were between 2 and 5 years old, was determined using the decayed, missing or filled (dmf) teeth index and a modified gingival index (MGI). A five-level modified dental anxiety scale (MDAS) was used to assess the dental anxiety of the mothers. Approximately 39.0% were assessed as fairly anxious, 34.8% were slightly anxious, 11.7% were not anxious, 10.7% were very anxious, and 3.7% were phobic.

The results of the study showed a clear link between the mothers’ dental anxiety and their children’s oral health, as the MGI score was high in the case of high MDAS values. The mean MGI score was highest in the phobic and lowest in the not anxious category. A similar result applied for the dmf index. The prevalence of caries in children with highly anxious mothers was fundamentally higher than those with less anxious and non-anxious mothers. Children of phobic mothers had the highest number of decayed, missing or filled teeth.

“Dental anxiety demonstrated a dynamic and clear effect on the oral health of individuals. Parent’s dental fear influences the youngster’s oral health result. Guardians with high-anxiety level maintain a strategic distance from dental treatment themselves and do not take their ward to the dental practitioner,” concluded the authors.

The study, titled “Association between maternal dental anxiety and its effect on the oral health status of their child: An institutional cross sectional study”, was published in the February 2019 issue of the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care.

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