Background. Dental anxiety is a persistent and irrational fear of dentists or dental treatment. It can manifest in a variety of ways, including avoiding the dentist, which can lead to poor dental health and decreased oral health-related quality of life (Murad et al., 2020). Furthermore, DA is an understudied problem in adults and knowledge about its prevalence is lacking as well as about the causes of dental phobia.

Objectives. This study aimed to explore and compare the prevalence and factors of DA and dental phobia between a university population and a dental clinic population in northeast Texas.

Methods. This is cross-sectional quantitative research. Participants included UT Tyler students as well as Tyler Junior College dental hygiene clinic clients. To assess DA, a Qualtrics survey was utilized, which included demographic information, oral health behavior, habits, mental health, diet, and the Modified Dental Anxiety Scale (MDAS). IBM SPSS was used to analyze the data.

Results. 50.3% of UT Tyler students had moderate to high levels of DA, while 44.4% of TJC clinic clients had moderate to high DA. Almost 1 out of 5 (18.2%) of UT Tyler students were extremely dental anxious or phobic, while 12.5% of TJC clinic clients were extremely anxious or phobic about going to the dentist. At UT Tyler, dental anxiety is controlled by factors such as age, gender, brushing frequency, current dental problem, dental efficiency, oral health examination more than a year ago, and mental health. Brushing frequency was found to control dental anxiety in TJC.

Conclusion. This study emphasizes that age is important in university students but education level is important in public service clients. Furthermore, oral cleanliness habits are important for both groups as well as general cognitions in students. The intervention at the community level for DA is recommended.

Date of publication

Spring 4-27-2023

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

William Sorensen, Ph.D., Committee Chair, Fletcher Njororai, Ph.D, Member, Cheryl Cooper, Ph.D, Member


Masters in Health Sciences