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J Contemp Dent Pract. 2004 Feb 15;5(1):126-35.

Applying social learning theory to children with dental anxiety.

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  • 1Counseling Psychology Program at the University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA.


Through a review of the literature dental anxiety has been found to be prevalent and problematic within the child population. Dentists are forced to treat the dentally anxious child in such ways that do little to reduce the anxiety of the child and in some cases cause dental anxiety to increase. This article seeks to apply Albert Bandura's social learning theory to reduce dental anxiety in children, in a preventative nature. A description of the social learning theory is offered as well as evidence indicating the effectiveness of applying the social learning theory to dental anxiety in children. Finally, suggestions for applications within the dental office are discussed.

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