Study finds people with dental anxiety face more oral health problems

A Swedish study from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg revealed that people who suffer from dental anxiety have a lower oral heath quality of life. The research, “Dental Anxiety in Adults: Psychosocial Aspects, Oral Health and Psychological Treatment,” a doctorate thesis by Viktor Carlsson, indicates that dental phobias result in irregular dental care and dissatisfaction with individuals' oral appearance.

In order to conduct these experiments, the author used a telemarketing company that agreed to poll 3,500 random Swedish citizens age 19 and up with a questionnaire regarding oral health. The survey started with a simple question: Are you afraid of going to the dentist? From there, the test subjects were asked about problems in the domains of functional limitation, physical pain, psychological discomfort, physical disability and handicap. The author concluded that dental anxiety is more common in women than men, and that people with the affliction were more likely to be smokers than the general population.

To test how people with dental anxiety feel about their oral appearance, the author worked with the Clinic of Oral Medicine, a public medical center that specializes in treatment of dental anxiety and phobias located in Gothenburg. One hundred and fifty two patients answered questions regarding their orofacial appearance in a survey normally used for patients using dental prosthetics. Compared to the general population, subjects with dental anxiety were often displeased with their face, mouth, gingiva and teeth. Older patients were found to have less satisfaction with their appearance.

© American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.