Exploring avoidance of dental care due to dental fear and economic burden- a cross sectional study in a national sample of younger adults in Norway
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Aim To assess the prevalence of dental avoidance due to dental fear and economic burden and its distribution by utilization of dental care and socio-behavioural characteristics. Method A sample of 9052 Norwegian adults aged 25–35 years was invited to participate, and 2551 completed electronic questionnaires regarding lifetime prevalence of dental avoidance due to fear and last year prevalence of dental avoidance due to economic burden. Results Cancelled- and avoided ordering appointments due to fear amounted to 14.7% and 30.5%, respectively. Avoidance of dental visits due to cost was 37.7%. Frequency of cancelled appointments due to fear was 30% and 16.6% among participants attending dental care several times annually and seldom, respectively. Multiple logistic regression revealed that avoiding dental visits due to cost was less likely among participants with higher household income (OR 0.4, 95% CI 0.3–0.5) and more likely among participants with dental care need (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.2–2.7). Cancelled and avoided appointments due to fear was most likely among those with need for dental care and lower education. Early unpleasant experience with dental care remained a covariate of avoidance behaviour due to fear. Conclusion 14.7%, 30.5%, and 37.7% confirmed cancelled appointments due to fear, avoided ordering appointments due to fear, and avoided visiting the dentist due to cost. Avoiding dental care due to fear and economic burden was more and less common among participants with respectively, frequent and seldom use of dental care. Dental avoidance behaviours were highest among socially disadvantaged groups, indicating a hole in the welfare state model that needs political consideration.