Aim: This study evaluated the presence of current and general phobia and anxiety symptoms in periodontology patients just before treatment in relation to specific dental fears and to general health status and quality of life.
Methods: The study population was all consecutive outpatients attending the Periodontics and Implantology Services, School of Dentistry, University of Bologna, over a 12-month period in 2007. Data collection instruments were psychological questionnaires (State-Trait Anxiety Inventory [STAI]-Y1, Marks-Sheehan Phobia Scale [MSPS], World Health Organization Quality of Life [WHOQOL] short form) plus supplementary items investigating specific dental fears, patient's dental history, and the dentist's clinical assessment of the patient.
Results: In all, 250 consecutive patients were recruited. Most (86%) presented with very mild anxiety and phobia symptoms; 13.2% and 13% presented with psychological symptoms of anxiety and phobia, respectively, independently of those subjects with specific dental fears who were significantly younger. The most common dental fears were fear of pain (48.8%) and of receiving an injection (29.9%). The patients' quality of life did not appear to be affected by these fears.
Conclusions: In the dental outpatients seeking treatment for moderate-to-severe dental pathology at a university periodontics and implantology clinic and referring good general health and psychosocial functioning, levels of anxiety and phobia were usually low or absent; but when present, they were independent of ascertained specific dental fears.