The study included 3,500 adults selected randomly from the general population. Svensson found that 19% of participants had some degree of dental anxiety, fear, or phobia, with 4.7% describing it as severe, 4.5% as moderate, and 9.8% as low.
"The most highly anxious people often have negative experience of dental care, with a lot of pain involved," Svensson said in a statement released by the university. "But the feeling of vulnerability can also be due to previous experience of trauma as assault involving the face and mouth, or sexual abuse."
The study findings also translate to 80.9% of study participants having no dental anxiety -- in comparison, a study in the 1960s found that 38.5% of respondents had no dental anxiety, according to Svensson. Preventive dentistry in children has been a crucial factor.
"Among the highly dentally anxious study participants, pain and not being in control were the most common causes of dental anxiety," she said. "For a dentist, these factors are relatively easy to control, and if we do, we're engaging in both preventive dentistry and treatment of severe dental anxiety."
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