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J Can Dent Assoc. 2017 Jan;82:h2.

Ontario Dentists' Estimation of Patient Interest in Anesthesia.



To investigate Ontario dentists’ perceptions of patient interest in sedation and general anesthesia (GA) during treatment and patient fear and avoidance of dental treatment.


Using the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario roster, we randomly selected 3001 practising Ontario dentists, from among those who listed an email address, to complete a 16-question survey by mail or online. Demographic information (e.g., gender, size and type of primary practice, and years of experience) was collected as well as dentist reports of patient interest in sedation/GA and level of fear regarding treatment. Analysis included sample t-tests to compare Ontario dentist responses with patient responses to a 2002 national survey.


1076 dentists participated (37.9% response rate), comprised of 69.7% males, 84.4% general practitioners, 0.5–42 years of practice (mean 20.6 years), and 40.6% from cities with a population larger than 500,000. Dentists underestimated patients’ interest in sedation/GA, with dentists and patients reporting patients “Not interested” as 66.8% and 43.9%, respectively, and “Interested depending on cost,” 19.8% v. 42.3%. Dentists also underestimated patient interest in sedation/GA for specific dental procedures including scaling, fillings/crowns, root canal therapy and periodontal surgery (p < 0.01). Dentists overestimated patient fear levels (“Somewhat afraid,” 19.9% v. 9.8%; “Very afraid,” 10.6% v. 2.0%; “Terrified,” 6.0% v. 3.5%) and the proportion of patients avoiding dental care (13.3% v. 7.6%).


Dentists underestimate patients’ preference for sedation/GA and overestimate their fear and avoidance of dental care. The significant disparities between the views of dentists and patients may affect the availability and provision of sedation and general anesthesia in Ontario dental practices.

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