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‘Message to Dentist’: Facilitating Communication with Dentally Anxious Children

School of Clinical Dentistry, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TA, UK
Department of Paediatric Dentistry, Charles Clifford Dental Hospital, Sheffield S10 2SZ, UK
Clapton Dental Practice, London E5 0LH, UK
Department of Psychology, Sociology and Politics, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield S1 1WB, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Dent. J. 2019, 7(3), 69;
Received: 17 April 2019 / Revised: 31 May 2019 / Accepted: 17 June 2019 / Published: 1 July 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Psychosocial Impacts of Dental Conditions in Childhood, Volume Ⅱ)
PDF [827 KB, uploaded 11 July 2019]


Dental anxiety affects children worldwide and can have negative consequences on oral health. This study aimed to evaluate a novel communication aid ‘message to dentist’ (MTD), as part of a wider cognitive behavioural therapy approach to reduce dental anxiety in young patients. Dentally anxious children, aged 9–16 years, were invited to complete the MTD proforma, before and following their course of treatment. They scored how worried they were and their anticipated pain levels on a scale of 1–10 (10 being the worst outcome). They also wrote down their coping plans and post-treatment reflections. One hundred and five children, from a UK general dental practice and a hospital clinic, were included. They had a mean age of 11.6 years, and 65% were female. There was a significant reduction in self-report worry (from 4.9 to 2.1) and anticipated pain (from 5.1 to 2.0) scores (p < 0.05, paired t-test). Many children (30%) used listening to music/audiobook as a coping strategy. Thematic analysis revealed concerns around pain, uncertainty, errors and specific procedures. The MTD proforma proved an effective means of facilitating communication between anxious children and the dental team, allowing them to identify their worries and make personalised coping plans. View Full-Text
Keywords: dental anxiety; communication tool; paediatric dentistry; cognitive behavioural therapy dental anxiety; communication tool; paediatric dentistry; cognitive behavioural therapy

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Rodd, H.; Timms, L.; Noble, F.; Bux, S.; Porritt, J.; Marshman, Z. ‘Message to Dentist’: Facilitating Communication with Dentally Anxious Children. Dent. J. 2019, 7, 69.

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