Mayme Davis

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Wayne Higgins, David Dunn, Robert Baum


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Original department Health & Safety

Degree Program

Department of Public Health

Degree Type

Master of Science


A study was completed in order to determine whether parental attitudes toward dental treatment influence the levels of fear and anxiety in young children at the time of their initial dental visit. This problem was investigated by (I) testing the dental attitudes of parents through the analysis of attitude questionnaires, (2) rating of the children's behavior in the dental operatory by the dentist or dental hygienist, and (3) examining the relationship between the two groups of findings.

The population for the study came from a private dental practice in rural, southcentral Kentucky. Sixty-nine child/ parent groups participated in the study.

An F-ratio was computed to determine if there was any evidence of systematic differences in the ratings performed by the two raters, and none was found.

A factor analysis of the Dental Attitude Questionnaire was computed in order to obtain a smaller set of definable components. Four factors were produced and were treated as independent variables in a multiple regression analysis along with age, race, rater, and visit. Factors I (waiting room) and II (parental attitude) were proven to be statistically significant at the .05 level, as were race and age of the children.

Due to the findings yielded from the statistical computations, the null hypothesis stating there will be no significant relationship between dental attitudes of parents and fear exhibited by the children was rejected.

Two implications for dental practice were yielded from the study:

(1) The positive attitudes toward dental health on the part of adults could alleviate some anxiety which children experience in a dental setting.

(2) The strong relationship between age and the behavior of children seeking dental care should serve as a reminder to all members of the dental health team to devote special attention to putting young children at ease.


Dental Hygiene | Dental Public Health and Education | Dentistry | Pediatric Dentistry and Pedodontics