Dental anxiety and pain related to dental hygienist treatment

Acta Odontol Scand. 2008;66(6):374-9. doi: 10.1080/00016350802415175.


Objective: To evaluate different groups of patients' self-reported assessments of dental anxiety and pain related to various routine dental hygienist treatment procedures, and to investigate the relationship between anxiety concerning dental and dental hygienist treatment.

Material and methods: A consecutive sample of 393 patients participated in the study (59.7% F, age range 20 to 85 years, mean 47.6 years). Periodontology (PC), oral medicine (OM), student and general practice (GP) clinics were included. Each patient was asked to answer a questionnaire which included different demographic information, self-reported levels of dental anxiety, and experience of pain in relation to different dental hygienist treatments.

Results: Higher dental anxiety was found in relation to gender (women), dentist treatment, and PC and OM patients. Experiences of high or extreme pain were reported by between 7.1% and 9.7% of participants for all dental hygienist procedures except polishing (0.8%). There were significant correlations between dental hygienist fear levels and reported extreme pain experiences among all five treatment procedures. Patients treated at the PC clinic scored significantly higher on pain compared with patients at the other clinics, with the exception of the OM clinic.

Conclusions: Patients reported higher dental anxiety levels for dentist treatment as compared with dental hygienist treatment. Moreover, dental anxiety was significantly associated with perceived pain related to different dental hygienist treatment procedures.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Dental Anxiety / psychology*
  • Dental Care / psychology*
  • Dental Hygienists*
  • Dental Prophylaxis / adverse effects
  • Dental Prophylaxis / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Self-Assessment
  • Sex Factors
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Young Adult