Dental Anxiety among Patients of Lahore, Pakistan
Objectives: The aim of this study was to measure the frequency and levels of dental anxiety amongst patients of Lahore. Influencing factors, self-perceived triggers, and self-perceived ways of reducing dental anxiety were also studied.
Methods: A questionnaire-based descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted in two public sector hospitals and three private sector hospitals on participants aged 13 and above. The hospitals included were Data Darbaar Hospital, Punjab Dental Hospital, CMH Lahore Medical College, Fatima Memorial Hospital, and Lahore Medical and Dental College. The questionnaire consisted of two parts: 1) the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale (MDAS); and 2) questions on demography, self-perceived triggers and self-perceived ways of reducing dental anxiety. Data was analysed using IBM Statistical Package for Social Sciences.
Results: There were 700 participants - 350 from private hospitals and 350 from public hospitals. Mean MDAS score of the sample was 13.4, S.D. 4.6. Mild/no anxiety was present in 28.1% of the participants, moderate to severe anxiety in 57.6%, and dental phobia in 14.3% of the participants. Factors influencing mean MDAS scores were gender, age, past dental experiences, and needle-threat (p<0.05). No significant differences in mean MDAS scores were seen between private and public hospitals (p=0.459), income groups (p=0.500), nor educational levels (p=0.269). The most frequent self-perceived triggers were related to clinical environment, while factors reducing anxiety were related to patient-dentist communication.
Conclusions: More than two-thirds of the sample were dentally anxious, particularly females, younger participants, those with bad past dental experiences, and those threatened with the idea of a needle in their childhood. Improving patient-dentist communication was identified as an important component in managing dental anxiety.