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FEMDA Survey of

Dental Anxiety

· News

Today the Foundation for Effective Management of Dental Anxiety (FEMDA) publishes results of its first Survey of Dental Anxiety. FEMDA recently commissioned a survey from Aurora Market Research to look at the prevalence of dental anxiety across the UK today. 12th January 2018.

Conducted between 16th and 20th December 2017, 1285 respondents took part in a nationally representative survey that asked them how anxious they feel when going to the dentist. They were asked to rate their anxiety as: “Not at all”, “Slightly anxious”, “Very anxious” and “Extremely anxious”.

What proportion of UK feel anxious about a visit the dentist?

Most previous studies have shown that at least half the UK adult population is anxious about visiting the dentist. Our survey confirmed this high level of dental anxiety and showed that today more than two thirds of adults surveyed stated they felt some form of anxiety when visiting the dentist.

How anxious do people feel visiting the dentist?

Published studies have shown that of half the UK population that are anxious 12% are severely anxious. This corresponds to 6% of the total population. Our survey showed that 40% of adults today identify themselves as very or extremely dentally anxious. This is a significant rise on previously published data and suggests that the prevalence of severe dental anxiety across the UK is on the rise. The impact on sufferer’s quality of life should not be underestimated. A study by Scholler et all (2003) 1 showed that for people aged between 55-64, those suffering from severe dental fear the average number of functional teeth was 7.5 compared to 22 for those without severe dental phobia. Fear of the dentist sets up a vicious cycle where people delay or avoid attending the dentists, which makes ultimate treatment more serious which leads to further anxiety.

Demographics of those who identify as "extremely anxious".

Most studies show that females are more like to experience dental anxiety than males. Our survey supports this previous data and shows that females are much more likely to experience dental anxiety. The graphic below shows the proportion of males and females who state that they feel extremely anxious about visiting the dentist. Worryingly, nearly one in three women between 16 and 24 say they feel extremely anxious about visiting the dentist.

As well as gender differences in dental anxiety, it is often widely assumed that there is a generational difference in levels of anxiety. It is often thought that the older generation are more dentally anxious because they experienced dental care when dentists were less aware of techniques to reduce their patient’s anxiety. However, our data suggests the opposite is true. It is clear from the data that younger generations, particularly those in the 35-44 category, experience more extreme dental anxiety then older generations.

Conclusion

The Survey of Dental Anxiety highlights the high prevalence of dental anxiety within the UK population at the end of 2017. Amazingly, 40 percent of people rate themselves as "very" or "extremely anxious". These extremes of dental anxiety have a significant impact on peoples’ quality of life. FEMDA promotes best practice in the management dental practices around the UK by training dentists and helping them deliver FEMDA's Management in Action Programme that is a clinically evidenced step by step approach to reducing a patients dental anxiety.

By becoming a member, FEMDA can help your practice manage your patients dental anxiety more effectively and help promote your excellence in the management of dental anxiety to more patients. To find out how FEMDA works email Angus on angus@femda.org.

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