European Archives of Paediatric Dentistry

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 349–355 | Cite as

Dentists’ use of behavioural management techniques and their attitudes towards treating paediatric patients with dental anxiety

  • Kjetil StrømEmail author
  • Anne Rønneberg
  • Anne B. Skaare
  • Ivar Espelid
  • Tiril Willumsen
Original Scientific Article



The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between dentists’ education in treatment of dental anxiety (DA), dentists’ attitudes towards patients with DA and dentists’ use of BMT.


An anonymous questionnaire was sent electronically to 611 dentists in the Public Dental Service in Norway. Statistical evaluation was done using cross tabulation with Chi square and logistic regression analyses.


The response rate was 65 % (n = 391). About half of the respondents (53 %, n = 208) had followed postgraduate courses in treating patients with DA. The following were the most common attitudes towards treating young patients with DA: it feels like making a contribution (72 %, n = 286), it is difficult or tiresome (54 %, n = 215) and it is a positive challenge (51 %, n = 203). Dentists who had taken postgraduate courses in DA more often reported anxious patients as a positive challenge (60 vs. 42 %, p < 0.001) and were less reluctant to treat these patients (5 vs. 15 %, p = 0.002). The most frequently used BMT was tell-show-do (87 %, n = 340), followed by relaxation (35 %, n = 132), distraction (25 %, n = 94), systematic cognitive behaviour therapy (22 %, n = 84) and conscious sedation (18 %, n = 69). Dentists without postgraduate courses in DA used fewer techniques when treating these patients (OR 2.1, 95 % CI 1.3–3.3, p = 0.001) compared with dentists who had taken these courses.


Country of graduation and postgraduate courses in DA had a strong relationship with dentists’ use of BMT and dentists’ attitudes towards young patients with DA.


Dental anxiety Behavioural management techniques Dentist-patient relationship Education Attitudes 



The authors would like to thank Professor Leiv Sandvik at the Faculty of Dentistry in the University of Oslo for relevant statistical advice. The authors would also like to thank the dentists in the Public Dental Service in the counties of Finnmark, Nordland, Sør-Trøndelag, Møre og Romsdal, Hordaland, Vest-Agder, Hedmark and Oslo for their contributions to the study. The manuscript does not contain clinical studies or patient data.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© European Academy of Paediatric Dentistry 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kjetil Strøm
    • 1
    Email author
  • Anne Rønneberg
    • 1
  • Anne B. Skaare
    • 1
  • Ivar Espelid
    • 1
  • Tiril Willumsen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Paediatric Dentistry and Behavioural Science, Institute of Clinical Dentistry, Faculty of DentistryUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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