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Psychosocial aspects of dental and general fears in dental phobic patients.

Journal article
Authors Kajsa H. Abrahamsson
Ulf Berggren
Sven G. Carlsson
Published in Acta odontologica Scandinavica
Volume 58
Issue 1
Pages 37-43
ISSN 0001-6357
Publication year 2000
Published at Institute of Odontology
Department of Psychology
Pages 37-43
Language en
Keywords Activities of Daily Living, Adaptation, Psychological, Adult, Anger, Attitude to Health, Chi-Square Distribution, Dental Anxiety, etiology, psychology, Dental Care, psychology, Depression, psychology, Fear, psychology, Female, Humans, Linear Models, Male, Quality of Life, Questionnaires, Social Adjustment, Social Environment, Stress, Psychological, psychology, Time Factors
Subject categories Odontological behavioural science, Psychology


Phobic reactions can often be a significant health problem for fearful dental patients. This is true in particular for individuals with long-time avoidance and elevated general psychological distress. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of dental fear among 67 dental phobic individuals with a low versus high degree of general fear. Reported etiologic background factors, avoidance time, general psychological distress and psychosocial manifestations and consequences of dental phobia were studied. No significant difference in dental anxiety level between individuals with low versus high general fear was found, and both groups reported high frequencies of negative dental experiences. The low-fear group reported a longer (though not statistically significant) average avoidance time than the high-fear group. However, patients with a high level of general fear showed a significantly higher degree of psychological distress, and also reported stronger negative social consequences from their dental anxiety. These results indicate that the character of dental fear might be different between different groups of fearful patients, which makes the condition psychologically handicapping. Such aspects should be assessed in the diagnostic analysis of patients with severe dental anxiety. In particular, assessments of signs of general psychological distress are warranted.

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