The pages herein have amply addressed the treatment of dental care anxiety, which constitutes a well-defined clinical occurrence capable of compromising the implementation of a dental care plan and which can occur in adults but has a particular impact on pediatric patients.
In order to prevent or deal with anxiety related to dental treatments, the authors propose to adopt a scalar protocol. A universally recommended behavioral approach should be at its basis in order to put subjects at ease. When faced with more complex cases, or completely unmanageable behaviors, it is possible to add increasingly anxiety-reducing methods ranging from conscious inhalation sedation, up to the absolute extreme consisting of general anesthesia.
Let us now tackle this same issue from a caregiver’s point of view. Al Qhtani and Pani, in an article recently published in the European Journal of Pediatric Dentistry, wondered if there was a relationship between the management of anxiety in young patients and the emotional outlook of their parents. In other words, the authors wrote an article in order to evaluate the parents’ anxiety during the implementation of dental care plans for their children, treated with different anxiety-prevention approaches.
The study involved a total sample of 60 parents of children aged 4 to 7 years, distributed randomly across three different groups of 20 members each. The children belonging to group A members underwent complete dental treatment with a behavioral approach, without ever resorting to any pharmacological behavior management methods. The children belonging to group B members were treated in any case while seated in the chair, but only after conscious inhalation sedation with nitrous oxide (N2O). Finally, group C members included subjects whose children were referred to dental rehabilitation under general anesthesia.
The degree of stress was subjectively assessed through the Modified Dental Anxiety Stress (MDAS) questionnaire and objectively through the detection of heart rate by pulse oximetry. This second criterion showed a significantly lower level in preoperative evaluation in the group of parents of patients not treated with sedation or local anesthesia.
In conclusion, the study noted the stress inducing effect exerted on parents by the adoption of a pharmacological regimen aimed, paradoxically, at managing dental care anxiety. From this point of view, the choice of alternative methods aimed at minimizing the discomfort of conventional local anesthesia, rather than complementary methods on a pharmacological basis, may be indicated.