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News / May 10, 2016

Study shows dental hygiene patients most anxious

by Guy Hiscott

A study has shown that a third of patients awaiting dental hygiene appointments have pretreatment anxiety.

Dental procedures usually associated with pain, such as root canal treatments or implant placement, were found to be unrelated to dental anxiety. Gingivitis and age were high on the list of dental anxiety factors.

‘Fear of the unknown, perceived unpredictability of dental treatment, and expectations of pain’ were found to be the reasons for dental anxiety.

‘We did not expect that so many patients who attend maintenance therapy visits on such a regular basis experience recurring pretreatment anxiety for what we consider to be a routine (harmless) preventive procedure,’ said Deborah Hofer, study author and research associate at the Clinic of Preventive Dentistry, Periodontology and Cariology in the Center of Dental Medicine at the University of Zurich in Switzerland.

The anxiety levels of 46 adult patients were measured in the 2009 study from the University of Zurich. All patients were awaiting a regular hygiene appointment and asked to fill out a questionnaire looking at dental anxiety, expected pain, feelings of stress or relaxation, general mood and alertness pretreatment, and general anxiety felt by being in a dental clinic.

Deborah added: ‘That [dental anxiety] also affected one-third of our dental hygiene recall population again sheds light on the importance of management.’