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Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 1997 Jun;25(3):233-7.

Antecedents of dental anxiety: learned responses versus personality traits.

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Department of Occlusion and Behavioral Sciences, Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger School of Dental Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Israel.


The origins of dental fear and anxiety are numerous and complex. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the relative effects of learned responses and subjective personality traits on the development of dental anxiety. The study was carried out in kibbutzim (closed homogeneous societies) in Israel where all subjects had received dental treatment from the same dentist since childhood with no choice of dentist. Subjects were requested to fill out questionnaires concerning their dental anxiety (DAS) in the past and at present, an evaluation of their dentist in the past and at present, and a psychopathologic symptom survey (SCL-90). The results show that dental anxiety at present correlates significantly with the evaluation of the present dentist; with dental anxiety as remembered from childhood; and with the following SCL-90 scales: interpersonal sensitivity, anxiety, phobic anxiety and Positive Symptom Distress Index. The best predictors of dental anxiety at present were the evaluation of the present dentist and past dental anxiety (as remembered from childhood). The results suggest that the level of the subject's dental anxiety is affected by environmental factors (evaluation of the present dentist, memories of anxiety from childhood), and by personality traits as evaluated by the SCL-90 questionnaire.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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