Introduction: The aim of this study was to conduct an exploration of differences in oral health behaviour and outcome between dentally phobic and non-phobic participants in the UK Adult Dental Health Survey (ADHS, 2009). The null hypotheses for this study were that there are no differences in oral health status of non-phobic and dental phobic individuals.
Methods: The ADHS survey covered the adult population in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and was commissioned by the NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care (NHS IC). Dental anxiety was defined using the Modified Dental Anxiety (MDAS) with the cut-off point set at 19 and above as indicating dental phobia. Descriptive statistics were calculated and the chi-square test was used to compare both groups in terms of their demographics, oral health, oral health-related behaviour and attitudes, and treatment.
Results: More women (16.8% [1,023]) than men (7% ) reported dental phobia. Generally, people with dental phobia were in routine occupations (648 [47.7%]), single (402 [29.4%]) and with lower educational attainment (858 [80.9%]). They were irregular attendees (798 [58.5%]), had a less restored dentition, increased numbers of one or more teeth with caries (292 [39.9%]), and were more likely to have PUFA (puss, ulceration, fistulae, abscess) scores of one or more (89 [12.2%]) in comparison to the non-phobic group (314 [5.6%]). However, people with and without dental phobia had similar numbers of sound and missing teeth (34.5% of the phobic group had 20 or more sound teeth in comparison to 31.7% of the non-phobic group). There were significant differences (p<0.001) between the phobic group's and non-phobic group's Oral Health Impact Profile-14 (OHIP) and Oral Impacts on Daily Performance (OIDP) scores with phobic participants having generally higher scores. Additionally, the phobic group responded negatively more commonly about their most recent dental treatment in terms of dentists' ability to listen to their concerns, explaining the reasons for their dental care while paying full attention to their needs by treating them with respect and dignity. The difference between the two groups was statistically significant (p<0.001).
Conclusions: Participants reporting dental phobia are mostly females, irregular attendees and have a greater treatment need with increased caries levels.