Dental anxiety in patients with borderline intellectual functioning and patients with intellectual disabilities

Antonio Fallea, Rosa Zuccarello, Francesco Calì

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: This study was aimed to investigate the prevalence of dental anxiety in a population of patients with Borderline Intellectual Functioning (BIF) and patients with mild and moderate intellectual disability (ID), and how dental anxiety correlated with their age and gender. Methods: The sample was made of 700 patients, 287 females and 413 males, 6-to-47 years old, either with borderline intellectual functioning or mild/moderate intellectual disabilities. All patients were administered the Dental Anxiety Scale to assess their level of dental anxiety. Results: Moderate Anxiety was the most prevalent dental anxiety category for patients with intellectual borderline functioning (15.56 %) and mild intellectual disabilities(18.79 %), while Severe Anxiety was the most prevalent category for patients with moderate intellectual disabilities(21 %). Overall, a statistically significant difference (p < 0.001) between the three groups (BIF, Mild-ID and Moderate-ID) was found. Also, the correlation analysis between participants' age and dental anxiety was statistically significant (p < 0.001); indeed, dental anxiety turned out to decrease with the increasing of the age. Moreover, the analysis between gender and dental anxiety was found to be significant as well (p < 0.001), where higher prevalence of dental anxiety was found in females. Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first study on dental anxiety carried out in the field of intellectual disability. Results show that the higher the level of intellectual disability - and consequently the lower the cognitive functioning - the higher the percentage and the severity of dental anxiety.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114
JournalBMC Oral Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 3 2016


  • Dental anxiety scale
  • Dental fear
  • Intellectual disabilities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Dental anxiety in patients with borderline intellectual functioning and patients with intellectual disabilities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this