There is limited empirical information as to whether or how stimuli associated with dental fear can be classified into distinct subtypes. The purpose of the current study was to develop a descriptive framework for the classification of dental fear. Data were collected using a survey among Dutch twin families (n = 11,771). The sample was randomly divided into two subsamples of, respectively, 5,920 and 5,851 individuals. An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was performed on the first subsample to delineate the multidimensional structure of a set of 28 dental-fear-provoking objects and situations. The second sample was used to confirm the newly derived model using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). The EFA yielded a three-factor solution with 70.7% explained variance pertaining to: (i) invasive treatment or pain; (ii) losing control; and (iii) physical sensations. The CFA showed an acceptable fit to the data, thereby confirming the stability of the three-factor structure. There are at least three different subtypes of dental fear. As these subtypes require a different treatment approach in clinical practice, it could be important to assess the severity of patients' fear response along these three dimensions.
- Journal Article