Dental fear is related to poorer oral health outcomes, and this might be explained by the less frequent dental visiting of many fearful people. The objectives of this study were to investigate differences between dentally fearful people who regularly attend the dentist and fearful people who infrequently visit the dentist. A random sample of 1,082 Australians ≥15 yr of age completed a mailed questionnaire (response rate = 71.6%), and 191 dentate, high-fear adults (≥18 yr of age) were selected for further analysis. Dental avoidance was recorded if a person was currently avoiding or delaying dental care and if he/she had not been to a dentist in the previous 2 yr. Among the selected dentally fearful adults, dental avoidance was predicted by smoking status, toothbrushing frequency, coping strategy use, perceptions of dental visits as uncontrollable and unpredictable, and by anxiety relating to numbness, not knowing what the dentist is going to do, and cost. In a multivariate logistic regression model, smoking, toothbrushing, coping, and anxiety about numbness and cost remained as statistically significant predictors, with the model accounting for 30% of the variance. While several variables were associated with dental avoidance among fearful adults, the nature and causal directions of these associations remain to be established.
- Dental anxiety
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