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Relationship Between Salivary Cortisol Levels and Children's Behavior During a Dental Examination

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Purpose: To correlate the salivary cortisol levels in children attending a university dental clinic with their behavior during the dental appointment.

Methods: A prospective study was conducted with 43 seven- to 10-year-old children whose behavior during the dental appointment was assessed using the Frankl scale. Participants were divided into two groups: (1) cooperative children; and (2) uncooperative children. All children had four saliva samples collected as follows: prior to the dental examination (S1); shortly after the dental examination (S2); 30 minutes after waking up in the morning after the day of the appointment (S3); and in the afternoon, 24 hours after the dental appointment (S4). Salivary cortisol levels were measured by the chemiluminescent assay method. Statistical analysis included the Friedman and the Wilcoxon signed rank tests.

Results: For the cooperative group, salivary cortisol levels were significantly lower at S1 (P=0.004), S2 (P=0.006), and S4 (P=0.001) compared to S3. For the uncooperative group, salivary cortisol levels were significantly higher at S1 compared to S2 (P=0.005).

Conclusions: Uncooperative children presented high levels of salivary cortisol prior to and shortly after the dental appointment. The period anticipating the consultation was considered highly stressful.
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Keywords: BEHAVIOR; DENTAL CARE FOR CHILDREN; HYDROCORTISONE; PHYSIOLOGICAL; SALIVA; STRESS

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Graduate student, in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dentistry, Federal University of Juiz de Fora, Juiz de Fora, in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil 2: Assistant professor, in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil 3: Graduate student, in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, Federal University of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil 4: Assistant professor, in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dentistry, Federal University of Juiz de Fora, Juiz de Fora, in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil;, Email: [email protected] 5: Professor, in the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dentistry, Federal University of Juiz de Fora, Juiz de Fora, in the State of Minas Gerais, Brazil

Publication date: 01 May 2017

More about this publication?
  • Acquired after the merger between the American Society of Dentistry for Children and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry in 2002, the Journal of Dentistry for Children (JDC) is an internationally renowned journal whose publishing dates back to 1934. Published three times a year, JDC promotes the practice, education and research specifically related to the specialty of pediatric dentistry. It covers a wide range of topics related to the clinical care of children, from clinical techniques of daily importance to the practitioner, to studies on child behavior and growth and development. JDC also provides information on the physical, psychological and emotional conditions of children as they relate to and affect their dental health.
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