The prevalence of dental anxiety across previous distressing experiences

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Aims: To compare the prevalence of high dental anxiety across a variety of past distressing experiences with a previously reported Dutch sample.
Method: University students from the UK (N=1024) completed an online survey containing; the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale, and the Level of Exposure-Dental Experiences Questionnaire (LOE-DEQ). Adjusted odds ratios (OR) were calculated to assess the association of self-reported distressing experiences and dental anxiety.
Results: The percentage of respondents with high dental anxiety (HDA) (total MDAS score ≥19) was 11.2%. Significant prevalence of HDA across several distressing experiences was shown in both UK and Dutch samples notably: extreme helplessness during dental treatment, lack of understanding of the dentist and extreme embarrassment during dental treatment. There were little or no effects of non dental trauma, with the exception of sexual abuse in the UK sample.
Conclusions: Trauma from various past experiences may be implicated in an increased risk of high dental anxiety.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-236
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Issue number2
Early online date19 Sept 2010
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2011


  • Dental anxiety
  • Prediction
  • Trauma
  • Survey


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