Dental anxiety in Iceland: an epidemiological postal survey

Bjorn Ragnarsson, Sigurjon Arnlaugsson, Karl Orn Karlsson, Thordur Eydal Magnusson, Eirikur Orn Arnarson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we examined the prevalence of specific (dental) phobia among a sample of the Icelandic population. In addition to dental anxiety we explored factors that could be related to dental anxiety. In the period 1972-73, a stratified sample of 1641 schoolchildren in Reykjavík was selected for a study on malocclusion, dental maturation and other factors. Twenty-two years later (1995), a postal survey conducted in this group looked at many variables relating to oral health, including orofacial pain, functional oral disorders, self-perception of dental and general appearance and need for orthodontic treatment. Out of 1529 individuals contacted, 1192 completed questionnaires were returned (response rate 78%). Questions based on DSM-IV criteria of specific (dental) phobia (DP) were included. Ninety-six participants reported that they had avoided dental treatment during the previous 6 months. Twenty-one respondents fulfilled DSM-IV criteria for specific (dental) phobia (DP) and 75 admitted to many symptoms of dental anxiety (DA). Specific (dental) phobia (DP) was more prevalent among women than among men. The divorced or widowed were most at risk, as were non-salaried respondents. Most respondents attributed the onset of their phobias to a specific painful or fearful experience. There was a significant difference between the total dentally anxious (TDA = DA + DP) and the not dentally anxious (NDA) with regard to sex (women--higher TDA) and marital status (divorced or widowed--higher TDA). The TDA had statistically fewer teeth than the NDA and received dental treatment less frequently.
Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Odontologica Scandinavica
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2003

Other keywords

  • Widowhood
  • Attitude to Health
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Dental Anxiety
  • Dental Care
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Facial Pain
  • Iceland/epidemiology
  • Mouth Diseases
  • Tooth Loss
  • Occupations


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