Background: Dental Anxiety (DA) is a multidimensional and complex experience that interferes with dental care seeking behaviour. The current study intended to measure self-reported dental anxiety, recognize factors that possibly influence DA and appraise the dental visiting pattern based on their severity of DA among young adults in the Indian population. Materials and Methods: A total of 1836 subjects aged 18-30 years participated and survey forms were administered in both English and Tamil languages. The Modified Dental Anxiety Scale (MDAS) was used for assessment of DA. Subjects were students from an engineering college and an Arts, Science College also the patients and their escorts, visiting the outpatient clinics of SRM Dental College. Results: DA was reported to be highest for the thought of receiving local anesthetic injection (Q5, mean score 2.79), followed by drilling of the tooth (Q3, mean score 2.72), sitting in the waiting room of the dental clinic (Q2, mean score 2.02), visiting the dentist (Q1, mean score 1.94) and finally the least anxiety provoking dental situation was tooth cleaning and polishing among this study subjects (Q4, mean score 1.90). History regarding previous visit to dentist revealed that 50.8% never visited a dentist and they were more anxious (p<0.05). Irregular visiting pattern was observed among those who visited a dentist previously with 47% of them visiting more than a year back. Furthermore, DA predicted dental non-attendance and avoidance behaviour in this study group. Bad experience at the dentist office was associated with high anxiety scores (p<0.001) and 3.34 times odds of avoiding dental visit. Those scoring ≥ 19 and 10-18 on MDAS were 4.8 and 2.36 times respectively more likely to avoiding dental visit due to DA. Conclusion: Thus the study underscores the importance of identifying and alleviating DA among younger adults thereby instilling a positive attitude towards dental visits which can improve their oral health condition.
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