Management of children's dental anxiety

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Childhood dental anxiety is not only distressing for the child and their family but is also associated with poor oral health outcomes and an increased reliance on costly specialist dental services. The reduction of dental anxiety, through the use of effective psychological techniques, is therefore, of utmost importance. Whilst there is a paucity of high-quality research investigating the effectiveness of psychological interventions in managing children’s dental anxiety, there are a number of evidence-supported techniques which could be adapted to meet the needs of dentally anxious children. However, delivery of these interventions needs to be cost-effective and feasible in every day clinical practice. Assisted self-help interventions, based on evidence-supported interventions and sound theoretical frameworks, may offer a promising avenue for the management of childhood dental anxiety.

What this paper adds

  • This paper provides an insight into the development and implications of dental anxiety in childhood

  • It describes more recent psychosocial approaches for anxiety management

Why this paper is important to paediatric dentists

  • It highlights the importance of identifying and managing dental anxiety from an early age

  • It considers the challenges of incorporating psychological interventions into paediatric dentistry practice

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