Patient anxiety is a major problem in dentistry, and many people avoid dental care for this reason. A study by Yusa, et al quantified anxiety using The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), a psychological test, with 108 students who underwent third molar extraction. The subjects completed the test, which assesses both state and trait anxiety simultaneously and quantitatively, on the first examination (day 1), immediately before the extraction (day 2), and the day after the extraction (day 3). The study found anxiety was significantly lower on day 3 compared to days 1 and 2, and that there was no significant difference in anxiety between days 1 and 2. Women had higher anxiety than men on day 2. Of interest is that students who subsequently underwent another third molar extraction (43 students) experienced significantly less anxiety compared to their first extraction. This suggests that anxiety associated with third molar extraction was alleviated with experience. There was no significant difference in anxiety scores between impacted and nonimpacted tooth removal, which suggests that the extraction itself, not the condition of the extracted tooth, caused anxiety. The authors note that oral and maxillofacial surgeons should consider that patients have severe anxiety during their initial visit for third molar extraction, but this anxiety is alleviated after the extraction and with subsequent extraction visits.
(Source: Oral Surg. Oral Med. Oral Pathol. Oral Radiol. Endod., Vol. 98, No. 1, 2004)