Objectives. The aim of the present study was to explore and compare psychological characteristics in two groups of 18-year-old adolescents: (i) subjects reporting no likelihood of visiting the dentist in a situation with toothache (avoiders); and (ii) subjects who definitely would see the dentist in the same situation (non-avoiders).
Methods. The study included a representative sample (n = 1385) of 18-year-old adolescents attending high schools in the county of Hordaland, Norway. Data were collected by use of questionnaires completed in classrooms.
Results. The following factors increased the risk of being included in the avoider group: negative beliefs of the dentist (communication, trust and control) (OR = 4.3), high dental anxiety (OR = 3.5), and being a male (OR = 2.4). No predictive power for being included in the avoider group was found for general self-efficacy, coping style, multiple fears, or anxiety and depression.
Conclusions. Adolescents with avoidance behaviour have more negative beliefs of the dentist and higher dental anxiety compared to non-avoiders, but were found to have no other specific psychological characteristics. These results indicate a high potential for prevention of future avoidance of care for dentists that are focusing on patient communication and to give young patients perceptions of trust and control during dental treatment.