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International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry 2010; 20: 83–101

Background.  The relationship between parental and child dental fear has been studied for over a century. During this time, the concept of dental fear as well as methodological approaches to studying dental fear in children have evolved considerably.

Aim.  To provide an overview of the published empirical evidence on the link between parental and child dental fear.

Design.  A structured literature review and meta-analysis.

Results.  Forty-three experimental studies from across the six continents were included in the review. The studies ranged widely with respect to research design, methods used, age of children included, and the reported link between parental and child dental fear. The majority of studies confirmed a relationship between parental and child dental fear. This relationship is most evident in children aged 8 and under. A meta-analysis of the available data also confirmed an association between parental and child dental fear.

Conclusion.  The narrative synthesis as well as the meta-analysis demonstrate a significant relationship between parental and child dental fear, particularly in children 8 years and younger.