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.
MEDICIN OCH HÄLSOVETENSKAP -- Klinisk medicin -- Odontologi (hsv//swe)
MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES -- Clinical Medicine -- Dentistry (hsv//eng)