Clinical management of dental anxiety: what works for whom?

Int Dent J. 2005 Apr;55(2):73-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1875-595x.2005.tb00037.x.


This paper aims to provide an overview of the current knowledge regarding the management of adult dentally anxious patients. Furthermore, an attempt is made to formulate a number of preliminary clinical guidelines, based on the available literature. The findings are discussed in the light of the following four problem areas or types of patients, those with: 1) a mild form of fear or anxiety, 2) a phobia of specific dental procedures or situations, 3) interfering psychiatric symptoms and/or 4) a high treatment need. The literature suggests that particularly the implementation of a high level of predictability during treatment, the training of patients in the use of coping skills, and the application of in vivo exposure to anxiety provoking stimuli are the most appropriate options for the management of anxious dental patients and the reduction of their anxiety level.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anesthetics, Inhalation / therapeutic use
  • Benzodiazepines / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Dental Anxiety / psychology
  • Dental Anxiety / therapy*
  • Dental Care / psychology
  • Desensitization, Psychologic
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / therapeutic use
  • Internal-External Control
  • Nitrous Oxide / therapeutic use
  • Premedication
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Relaxation


  • Anesthetics, Inhalation
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Nitrous Oxide