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Spec Care Dentist. 1997 May-Jun;17(3):82-7.

The relationship of age and gender to fear and anxiety in response to dental care.

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Department of General and Hospital Dentistry, UMDNJ New Jersey Dental School, Newark 07103-2400, USA.


The apparent association in the published literature of gender and age with dental fear and anxiety is far from consistent or universal. A random, age-stratified telephone survey of 398 adults was performed in a US metropolitan area: Denver, Colorado. Information collected included Kleinknecht's Dental Fear Survey (DFS). In addition to total DFS scores, values were also calculated for the sums of the five DFS physiologic response items (PATRESP) and 12 DFS fear-producing stimulus items (DENTSTIM). Tests for reliability of these three scales were performed (alpha = 0.804 to 0.936). In this sample population, significant age and gender differences were noted. In general, fear and anxiety decreased in importance with increased respondent age, with the largest difference noted between the 40-50 and 60-69 age groups. Increased fear and anxiety were most apparent among younger females (20-30 and 40-50) as compared with older females (60 and older). However, among males, the summary variable for physiologic response to fear and anxiety did not appear to be age-related. Among the oldest respondents (ages 70+), 12.2% did report a "major" response to muscle tension when in the dental chair. Females reported more fear of some stimuli associated with dental care (e.g., "feeling the drill in the mouth") than did males.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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