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Ethiop Med J. 2013 Apr;51(2):115-21.

Dental anxiety: prevalence and associated factors, among children who visited Jimma University Specialized Hospital Dental Clinic.

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School of Dentistry, Jimma University.



Dental fear in children has been recognized as an important condition in patient management for many years. Its effects have been shown to persist into adulthood which can lead to dental avoidance.


The aim of this study is to assess the magnitude and factors associated with dental fear among pediatric age group dental clinic attendees at Jimma University Specialized Hospital.


A cross-sectional study was conducted on 240 children who visited the dental clinic. Consecutive children who came to the dental clinic participated in the study. Dental anxiety was measured using Corah's Dental Anxiety Scale (CDAS) and Dental Fear Survey (DFS). Data was collected by directly interviewing the children and their parents. Chi-square statistics were used to explore for level of significance of associations between the variables.


The mean age of the study population was 10.45 years (SD = 3.19). The rate of dental anxiety in the children was found to be 74.1% ranging from moderate to severe anxiety. More than a third of the participants (36.6%) had moderate level of anxiety; 17% of them had high level of anxiety and 20.5% of them had severe anxiety. Sex of the child was not significantly associated with dental anxiety whereas age of the child was found to be significantly associated (P = 0.029). Having previous experience of dental procedure in general was not associated with the level of anxiety, however, having painful previous experience was found to be associated with higher anxiety level. Also, there was significant association is found between anxiety levels of parents and children (P < 0.001). Moreover, children with dental anxiety were found to have avoidance of dental treatment.


The huge burden of dental anxiety and dental fear as well as its consequent dental avoidance found in this study calls for further study. Dentists should be aware of the pervasiveness of the problem and be ready to address the issue in routine clinical care.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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