A pediatric dentist conducted a study in late 2011 to determine the general perception children have of their family dentists.  The study was published on the U.S. National Library of Medicine’s website.
Surprisingly, the study results contradict mainstream belief quite dramatically.  Everyone still thinks kids are afraid of the family dentists when, according to this study, many of them aren’t.
For the study, 583 children filled out a questionnaire that evaluated their past dentist experiences (if they had any).  289 females and 294 males between the ages of 9 and 12 completed the questionnaire.  Because it was in questionnaire form, the children were able to answer privately and anonymously.  In children studies, questionnaires garner more honest results because the child doesn’t feel pressured or self-conscious about what other children think.
Here are some key percentages that resulted from the completed questionnaires:

  • 76% of children had visited the dentist before
  • 64% liked visiting their family dentist; 11% didn’t; 12% were afraid
  • 90% liked it when their dentist wore a white coat
  • 63% preferred a decorated dental office over a plain white-wall office

The percentage that causes the most disbelief is the 64%.  When comparing this percentage to the percentage of children who visited the dentist before, it’s evident that over 80% of the children who had been to a family dentist before actually liked their visit.  If you told this to anyone today, they’d say bologna.
But it’s fact.  There’s documented proof and the study is relatively recent.  Also, family dentists in San Antonio, San Diego, New York and everywhere else in the United States support this.  More often than not, they see smiling faces.
The biggest reason children fear the dentist (12% in this study) isn’t always because of pain or past experience.  It’s because they don’t know what to expect.  The same goes for a haircut and first day of school.  Everything worked out before, but they think “What if this time is different?”