Background: This study aimed to describe both the prevalence of dental fear in Australia and to explore the relationship between dental fear and a number of demographic, socio-economic, oral health, insurance and service usage variables.
Methods: A telephone interview survey of a random sample of 7312 Australian residents, aged five years and over, from all states and territories.
Results: The prevalence of high dental fear in the entire sample was 16.1 per cent. A higher percentage of females than males reported high fear (HF). Adults aged 40-64 years old had the highest prevalence of high dental fear with those adults aged 80+ years old having the least. There were also differences between low fear (LF) and HF groups in relation to socioeconomic status (SES), with people from higher SES groups generally having less fear. People with HF were more likely to be dentate, have more missing teeth, be covered by dental insurance and have a longer time since their last visit to a dentist.
Conclusions: This study found a high prevalence of dental fear within a contemporary Australian population with numerous differences between individuals with HF and LF in terms of socioeconomic, socio-demographic and self-reported oral health status characteristics.