Dental anxiety prevalence and surgery environment factors: A questionnaire-based survey of attenders in Ireland

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Brady, Paul
Dickinson, Chris
Whelton, Helen
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Society for the Advancement of Anaesthesia in Dentistry
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Aim: To identify and quantify anxious dental patientsand dental office environment factors that may influence anxiety. Objective: To develop and implement a questionnaire toinvestigate dental anxiety and identify factors thatenhance or lessen dental anxiety in the surgery setting. Methods: Data was collected from patients by a self completed questionnaire when attending dentists at a general dental practice and hospital clinics. Results: The estimated prevalence of dental anxiety in the totalsample was 17.0%. A higher proportion of females were highly anxious. Those attending the Dental Hospital were less likely to be anxious than those who were attending the Dental Practice. An inverse relationship between frequency of dental attendance and dental anxiety was found. Anxiety was significantly higher forthose respondents that indicated that a delay in their appointment would make them more anxious. Of the reported fears regarding their dental visit, 60% of respondents claimed that they were afraid it s going tohurt . When compared to non-anxious patients, more anxious patients feared feeling out of control , a negative experience , the needle, the drill, and being bothered by the smell associated with dental materials.The majority of respondents had a preference for a dentist that was young, friendly, talkative and native English speaking. In general, patients preferred the surgery temperature to be slightly cool. Regardless of anxiety level, 31.0% of patients said that they would prefer the chairside mouth rinse to be plain water with 49.1% not having a preference. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that a significant proportion of patients experience anxiety about visiting the dentist. Many of them have preferences about dentists and the surgery environment which may be modulators of their anxiety. Awareness by the dental profession of the causes of dental anxiety and measures taken by dentists tominimise these trigger factors could have a substantial impact on anxious patients.
Dental anxiety , Patient preferences , Regularity of attendance
Brady P , Dickinson C, Whelton H (2012) ‘Dental anxiety prevalence and surgery environment factors: A questionnaire-based survey of attenders in Ireland'. SAAD Digest, 28, pp. 13-22.