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J Oral Rehabil. 2006 Aug;33(8):588-93.

Dental anxiety--an epidemiological study on its clinical correlation and effects on oral health.

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1
Department of Prosthodontics, Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany.

Abstract

Pronounced dental anxiety could lead to avoidance strategies to evade dental visits. The aim of the present epidemiological study was to investigate the prevalence and related oral disease patterns of dental anxiety in young adult male soldiers. Therefore, the intensity and frequency of dental anxiety are presented and the correlation with oral clinical findings are evaluated. Three hundred seventy-four soldiers who underwent a compulsory dental check-up were randomly assigned to this study. Psychological parameters were collected based on a protocol integrating the Dental Anxiety Scale (DAS) and the Gatchell Fear Scale (GaFS). Patient-based measures included D3,4MF-scores for dental status and the Community Periodontal Index of Treatment Need (CPITN) for periodontal status. Thirty-two individuals (8.6%) showed DAS-scores of 13 or 14 (anxious), while 4.6% had a DAS-score > or = 15 (highly anxious/phobic). Highest DAS-values were measured among patients' aged 19-29 (n = 262). DMFS-values of anxious and less anxious patients showed only minor differences. However, anxious patients had significantly more carious lesions (P < 0.001). CPITN periodontal values showed no significant differences between both groups. 89.2% of less anxious individuals and 79.6% of anxious patients went for regular dental check-ups. Thus, every tenth patient was considered to have high dental anxiety. Anxiety results in avoidance behaviour, which can only be discovered upon compulsory examinations and which is associated with higher caries morbidity and need for oral rehabilitation. As anxiety has a direct influence on oral health, it should be detected and accounted for in a treatment concept integrating dental and cognitive-behavioural therapeutic approaches.

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