Dental fear

Dental fear (DF) is one of the most common specific phobias, and the estimated prevalence in Scandinavia is reported to be 5 % among adults (1) and up to 9 % among children (2). Depending on the severity of DF, the patients are often impaired in the regularity of contact with the dental care, and patients suffering with DF more often experience an inferior oral health compared to other patients (3). The ways of treating DF mainly involves adequate psychological care, and a successful and well-used treatment is cognitive behavior therapy (CBT). A meta-analysis which examined DF patients treated with CBT showed a significant reduction of fear, and that approximately 80 % of the treated patients continuously and independently received dental care (4). Various methods for measuring DF have been used over the years. Dental Anxiety Scale (DAS) is the most common and well-known measuring tool and it is based on self-perceived grading of DF (5). Other measuring tools have been developed to include a more diverse assessment, for example Index of Dental Anxiety (IDAF) where cognitive, behavioral, emotional, and psychological aspects are taken into account (6). Research is ongoing to measure dental fear in more objective ways, for example through stress hormone levels in the saliva (7).