Objectives: The prevalence of “dental anxiety” (DA) is often underestimated and numerous diagnostic methods are available for dental practitioners. It is difficult to differentiate between a dental phobia requiring an interdisciplinary approach and DA, which can be managed by dental practitioners alone. The appropriate use of diagnostic tools is key for the successful management of highly anxious and/or phobic patients. The aim was to provide a guideline to recognize dental fear and to differentiate DA from patients who are highly anxious or even have a phobia. Data sources: In total, 8,929 articles that were selected for the development of the German guidelines for “Dental anxiety in adults” in PubMed, Web of Science, Embase, and MedPilot were filtered for diagnosis of DA disorder. The focus for this review was on the use of scales to measure DA levels. The methods and tools used in the 51 reviewed articles to assess DA levels were evaluated in terms of their practicability and suitability in daily practice to differentiate between phobia (ie, DA disorder) and nonpathologic anxiety. In addition, the internal consistency (Cronbach alpha) of the questionnaires/tools was determined.
Schlagwörter: dental anxiety, dental phobia, diagnosis, probability, scale
Conclusion: All identified DA questionnaires validated in the German language had an acceptable to excellent internal consistency (0.7 to 0.986). The only validated questionnaire-free method was galvanic skin reaction measurement. For the assessment of DA and diagnosis of a DA disorder in adults, the survey by means of any suitable questionnaire or even several questionnaires in combination with a behavioral observation of the patient is currently the method of choice.