Dental anxiety in 18-year-old Norwegians in 1996 and 2016

Acta Odontol Scand. 2020 Jan;78(1):13-19. doi: 10.1080/00016357.2019.1637933. Epub 2019 Jul 9.


Objective: To estimate the prevalence of dental anxiety, and to explore factors that may increase the risk of reporting dental anxiety among 18-year-old Norwegians in 2016. A further objective was to report changes in dental anxiety since 1996.Material and methods: An anonymous survey from a strategic sample of upper secondary students (n = 351) in 2016 with high response rate (93%) was compared with the results of an investigation of a similar population conducted in 1996.Results: The prevalence of dental anxiety and dental distrust was reduced from 1996 to 2016. Dental Fear Survey (DFS) from 19 to 8% (p < .001), and Dental Belief Survey (DBS) from 15 to 6% (p < .001). Geer Fear Scale (GFS) which measure phobic anxiety did not show a similar reduction (17 versus 15%, p = .37). Phobic anxiety, avoidance behaviour, self-reported poor oral health and previous experiences of pain were all associated with dental anxiety.Conclusion: The prevalence of dental anxiety was reduced from 1996 to 2016, but 8% still report dental anxiety. Proper pain management and use of behavioural management techniques still needs to be highlighted to prevent development of dental anxiety, avoidance behaviour and poor oral health.

Keywords: prevalence; Dental fear and anxiety; adolescents; pain.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Dental Anxiety / epidemiology*
  • Dental Anxiety / etiology
  • Dental Anxiety / psychology
  • Dental Care / psychology
  • Fear*
  • Humans
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Oral Health
  • Pain / epidemiology
  • Pain / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Public Health Dentistry
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires