General fearfulness, attitudes to dental care, and dental anxiety in adolescents

Authors

  • Agneta Stenebrand,

    Corresponding author
    • Centre of Oral Health, School of Health Sciences, Jönköping University, Jönköping, Sweden
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  • Ulla Wide Boman,

    1. Department of Behavioral and Community Dentistry, Institute of Odontology, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Göteborg, Sweden
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  • Magnus Hakeberg

    1. Department of Behavioral and Community Dentistry, Institute of Odontology, The Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Göteborg, Sweden
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Agneta Stenebrand, Department of Natural Science and Biomedicine, School of Health Science, Box 1026, SE-551 11 Jönköping, Sweden

E-mail: agneta.stenebrand@hhj.hj.se

Abstract

The etiology of dental anxiety (DA) may involve a spectrum of factors related to past dental experiences, general and specific fears, and other personality factors, but is relatively unexplored in adolescents. The aim of this study was to examine how general fearfulness and attitudes to dental care/personnel were related to DA in 15-yr-old subjects. The sample included 263 randomly selected 15-yr-old adolescents living in the municipality of Jönköping in southern Sweden. Four questionnaires were used: one general questionnaire regarding background data and three psychometric instruments dealing with DA, general fearfulness, and dental beliefs. Of all participants, 6.5% were classified as having DA. Dental anxiety was moderately to strongly correlated both with attitudes to dental care/personnel and with general fearfulness and indicated the strongest impact for individuals with both high general fearfulness and high dental beliefs in relation to DA. The linear multiple regression analysis showed that the best predictors of DA were general fearfulness and dental beliefs. This suggests that both individual vulnerability in terms of generalized fear and apprehensions about dental staff, which is linked to experiences of dentistry, appear to be important factors for DA and may be considered as risk factors for DA in adolescents.

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