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Dental Anxiety in a Sample of West Indian Adults

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Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the level of dental anxiety and its possible causes among people in Trinidad and Tobago.

Method: This is a cross-sectional survey of parents and guardians accompanying children who were attending a paediatric dental clinic. Participants completed a questionnaire while in the waiting room, which included the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale (MDAS), age, gender and occupation. An additional item was included which asked participants to rate the anxiety felt on having a tooth extracted.

Results: There were 100 participants (81% female). Overall, 40% of participants reported moderate to severe anxiety. Twenty-three per cent of participants had moderate anxiety (MDAS 15–18) and 17% had severe anxiety/phobia (MDAS 19–20). Level of anxiety was related to gender (multiple linear regression, p < 0.05). Proportions of participants were very/extremely anxious of having a tooth drilled (48%), local anaesthetic injection (53%) and extraction (52%). Thirty-six per cent of participants had avoided dental treatment in the past because they were too anxious.

Conclusion: High levels of dental anxiety were found in this sample of Trinidadian adults. The MDAS was able to detect significant elements of that anxiety. The addition of a question on extraction revealed that this procedure may contribute substantially in anxiety toward dental treatment in the Caribbean.

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e-Published: 15 Oct, 2013
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