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Dental anxiety among middle-aged and elderly women in Sweden. A study of oral state, utilisation of dental services and concomitant factors.

Journal article
Authors Catharina Hägglin
Ulf Berggren
Magnus Hakeberg
Margareta Ahlqwist
Published in Gerodontology
Volume 13
Issue 1
Pages 25-34
ISSN 0734-0664
Publication year 1996
Published at Institute of Odontology
Institute of Odontology, Department of Endodontology/Oral Diagnosis
Pages 25-34
Language en
Keywords Adult, Age Distribution, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Cross-Sectional Studies, Dental Anxiety, epidemiology, Dental Health Services, statistics & numerical data, utilization, Female, Humans, Middle Aged, Oral Health, Prevalence, Surveys and Questionnaires, Sweden, epidemiology, Urban Population, statistics & numerical data
Subject categories Odontological behavioural science


The aim of this project was to investigate dental anxiety and its expression in utilisation of dental services, oral health and oral symptoms. In a cross-sectional study of women's health in Göteborg (population 432,000), Sweden, 1016 women aged 38 to 84 years participated. This randomly selected population took part in a series of investigative procedures including medical and dental clinical examinations, interviews and questionnaires. Levels of dental anxiety were measured on the Corah Dental Anxiety Scale (DAS). The average DAS score obtained was 7.2. The study showed that older women were significantly less anxious than younger ones. Severe dental anxiety (DAS > or = 15) was experienced by 3.9% of the participants. This frequency corresponds well with findings by Hällström and Halling in their analysis of data from the first Göteborg study of women's health 24 years ago. High levels of dental anxiety were correlated with longer intervals between dental visits, poorer oral function and aesthetics and a higher frequency of oral symptoms. Headaches were more prevalent in the younger age groups and a correlation with dental anxiety was revealed. Our previous studies have shown that symptoms such as tension headaches are prevalent among dental phobic patients and that they are reported to be reduced by therapy for dental fear. The clinical and radiographical examinations revealed a generally poorer oral status, with a statistically significant higher number of decayed teeth among women with high dental anxiety.

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