Barriers and Drawbacks of the Assessment of Dental Fear, Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia in Children: A Critical Literature Review
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Objective: Dental anxiety, fear and phobia have different etiology, response patterns, time courses, and intensities that justify a clear distinction between these constructs. Differentiation of dental anxiety, fear or phobia in practice is a critical prerequisite for developing and implementing effective treatment for children. The aim of this study was to investigate whether current researches in the pediatric dentistry appropriately discriminate the central construct of dental anxiety, fear and phobia. We also highlighted the specific methodological issues in the assessment of these issues in pediatric dentistry. Study design: A systematic search was conducted in Pubmed/medline and Scopus for articles which assessed dental anxiety, fear or phobia in children. Results: 104 research papers were included in the review that had made a distinction between dental anxiety, fear and phobia and had not used them interchangeably. Only five studies used different clinical measures or cut-offs to discriminate between dental anxiety, fear and phobia. Conclusion: The dental literature appears unable to capture and also measure the multi-sided construct of dental anxiety, fear and phobia and, therefore, there was a tendency to use them interchangeably.
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