Fear of visiting the dentist is passed on to kids by their parents, a new study has revealed.
The study conducted by scientists at the Rey Juan Carlos University of Madrid also highlighted the important role that parents play in the transmission of dentist fear in their family.
America Lara Sacido, one of the authors of the study explained that “along with the presence of emotional transmission of dentist fear amongst family members, we have identified the relevant role that fathers play in transmission of this phobia in comparison to the mother.
The study analysed 183 children between 7 and 12 years and their parents in the Autonomous Community of Madrid. The results were in line with previous studies, which found that fear levels amongst fathers, mothers and children are 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 revealed that fathers play a key role in the transmission of dentist fear from mothers to their children as they act as a mediating variable.
“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,” stated Lara Sacido.
Consequently, transmission of fear from the mother to the child, whether it be an increase or reduction of anxiety, could be influenced by the reactions that the father displays in the dentist.
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.
The study has been published in the “International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry.”