Tim Brunson DCH

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Dental anxiety in a representative sample of residents of a large German city

In a demographic survey, 300 residents of a German city were questioned to determine the prevalence of dental anxiety. The correlation between the amount of dental anxiety and the age, sex, and education of the subjects was examined and the reasons for avoiding dentist's appointments, the duration of this avoidance, and what the subjects desire from future dental treatment. The Hierarchical Anxiety Questionnaire (HAQ) was used to measure the amount of dental anxiety. The average level of anxiety was 28.8+/-10.1 according to the HAQ. Young people were more afraid than older people (p=0.007), and women were more anxious than men (p=0.004). Of the women, 72% go to the dentist regularly, but only 60% of the men do (p=0.020). A painful experience while receiving dental treatment was given by 67% as the main reason for their dental anxiety, followed by a fear of needles (35%). The people wished for the most accurate information available about the dental treatment they receive (69%), followed by a compassionate dentist (62%), and treatment that is free of pain (62%). Of the people, 11% [95% CI: (7.5%; 14.5%)] suffer from dental phobia. All dental phobics were able to state the cause of their fear and more urgently wished for help from the dentist in overcoming their anxiety than the non-phobics (p=0.030). To satisfy the needs of the phobic patients, it appears necessary to screen the phobics out of the group of all patients and then offer them adequate therapy, or refer these patients to specialised treatment centres.

Department of Oral Surgery, Faculty of Dental Medicine, University of Witten/Herdecke, Augusta- Kranken- Anstalt, Bergstrasse 26, 44791 Bochum, Germany.

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