• coping skills;
  • dental anxiety;
  • dental visiting habits;
  • depression;
  • general anxiety

The aim of the present study was to investigate dental coping strategies, general anxiety, and depression in relation to regularity of dental treatment among persons with either regular dental care or phobic avoidance, whilst controlling for sociodemographic factors. Psychometric questionnaires on dental anxiety, dental coping strategies, general anxiety, and depression were delivered to 263 adult patients with dental phobic avoidance behavior who were seeking help from a specialized dental fear clinic and to 141 adult patients with dental anxiety who were receiving regular dental care from various public dental clinics. The results showed that the levels of dental and general anxiety and of depression were significantly higher among irregular attendees compared with regular attendees. Irregular attendees admitted fewer adaptive coping strategies. Predictive of irregular dental care were gender, dental anxiety, general anxiety, and the nonuse of the coping strategy ‘optimism’. This study further confirms earlier preliminary results that the use of optimistic thinking is predictive for regular dental attendance habits and that male gender is a risk factor for irregular attendance. Moreover, this study adds that a high level of general anxiety indicates a higher risk for irregular dental care.