OBJECTIVES: We examined factors associated with dental anxiety among a sample of HIV primary care patients and investigated the independent association of dental anxiety with oral health care.
METHODS: Cross-sectional data were collected in 2010 from 444 patients attending two HIV primary care clinics in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Corah Dental Anxiety Scores and use of oral health-care services were obtained from all HIV-positive patients in the survey.
RESULTS: The prevalence of moderate to severe dental anxiety in this sample was 37.8%, while 7.9% of the sample was characterized with severe dental anxiety. The adjusted odds of having severe dental anxiety were 3.962 times greater for females than for males (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.688, 9.130). After controlling for age, ethnicity, gender, education, access to dental care, and HIV primary clinic experience, participants with severe dental anxiety had 69.3% lower adjusted odds of using oral health-care services within the past 12 months (vs. longer than 12 months ago) compared with participants with less-than-severe dental anxiety (adjusted odds ratio = 0.307, 95% CI 0.127, 0.742).
CONCLUSION: A sizable number of patients living with HIV have anxiety associated with obtaining needed dental care. Routine screening for dental anxiety and counseling to reduce dental anxiety are supported by this study as a means of addressing the impact of dental anxiety on the use of oral health services among HIV-positive individuals.