The aim of this study was to analyze the association between dental anxiety, dental attendance, health status and social factors. Our previous studies have shown that dental anxiety declines with age and is associated with poor oral health. In addition, correlations between dental anxiety, dental utilization and dental status have been revealed. However, the association of these factors with general health and social factors has not been analyzed in our previous studies. In a study of women's health in Göteborg, Sweden in 1992, 1.017 urban women aged 38 to 84 years took part in a series of investigations including clinical examinations, interviews and questionnaires. In addition to descriptive and simple inference statistics, a two-part multiple logistic regression model was utilized to investigate dental anxiety and dental utilization. Dental fear was less prevalent among older women, dentate or not, although 10% of females 62 years of age and older still reported high dental anxiety (DAS > or = 12). 94% of the younger (< or = 62 yr) and 76% of the older (> or = 70 yr) women reported regular dental attendance. When separating all women into dentate and edentulous groups, 94% of the dentate and 11% of the edentulous respondents reported regular dental care. Due to the large difference in dental attendance between dentate and edentulous women, these groups were analyzed separately. Multiple logistic regression analyses showed that the following factors were associated with irregular dental utilization among dentate women: high dental anxiety, fewer teeth and restorations, more caries, poorer chewing ability and dissatisfaction with dental esthetics. In the multiple regression for dental anxiety, high fear was shown to be associated with irregular dental care, age (younger), fewer teeth, dissatisfaction with dental esthetics and lower scores on the SF-36 mental health scale. A separate analysis showed that individuals with high fear and regular, as opposed to irregular, dental attendance had more teeth at a statistically significant level, which were less often decayed and more often restored. In spite of the group with high fear and irregular attendance having fewer teeth, their level of decay was seven times higher. Overall, the results indicate a strong association between dental fear and dental attendance. Weak associations were found among socio-economic, dental health and general health factors.