Maternal dental anxiety as a risk factor for dental caries in children: a cross-sectional study

Tasneem S. Ain, Saima Sultan, Owais Gowhar, Ravishankar T. L.


Background: The prevalence of dental caries among children is quite enormous; parental dental anxiety being one of the factors for this burden of disease. Environment of the family has a significant bearing on children’s oral health. Mothers who have a fear of dental treatment delay or avoid their children’s timely and appropriate treatment of oral health problems which ultimately lead to poor oral health among children; dental caries being the most common one. Aim: To assess the association of dental anxiety among mothers with the dental caries among their children.

Methods: A cross-sectional questionnaire based study was carried out at various private dental clinics in Kashmir, India. 200 mother-child pairs were selected for the study. To assess the dental anxiety level of mothers, Modified Dental Anxiety Scale (MDAS) {Urdu version} was used. Dental caries (DMFT/dmft) of their children was recorded using World Health Organization (WHO) criteria.

Results: The caries experience (mean dmft/DMFT of children with highly anxious mothers was higher than those with less anxious and non-anxious mothers. The children whose mothers were ‘extremely anxious’ (phobic) had the highest mean dmft/DMFT (4.06±1.99) while the mean DMFT was least (1.03±2.01) among those children whose mothers were non-anxious. The difference was found to be statistically significant (p <0.05).

Conclusions: It was concluded that occurrence of dental caries was more in children of highly anxious mother’s and hence there exists the association between the mother’s dental anxiety and their children’s dental caries prevalence.


Children, Dental anxiety, Dental caries, Mothersv

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