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Parents’ dental fears can affect their children

18 December 2012

Researchers in Spain have found that fathers play an important role in transference of fear between mothers and children. Numerous reports previously have found that fear levels between fathers, mothers and children were interlinked. The authors confirmed that the higher the level of dentist fear or anxiety in one family member, the higher the level in the rest of the family. The study also reveals that fathers act as a mediating variable in the transmission of dentist fear from mothers to their children.

“Although the results should be interpreted with due caution, children seem to mainly pay attention to the emotional reactions of the fathers when deciding if situations at the dentist are potentially stressful,” states Lara Sacido. It seems that the father can have a moderating effect in either reducing or increasing the fear that the child has.

Amongst the possible implications of these results, the authors outline the two most salient: the need to involve mothers and especially fathers in dentist fear prevention campaigns; and to make fathers to attend the dentist and display no signs of fear or anxiety.

“With regard to assistance in the dental clinic, the work with parents is key. They should appear relaxed as a way of directly ensuring that the child is relaxed too,” notes the author. “Through the positive emotional contagion route in the family, the right attitude can be achieved in the child so that attending the dentist is not a problem,” she concludes.