University of Oulu

Pohjola, V.; Kunttu, K.; Virtanen, J.I. Psychological Distress, Dental Health, and Dental Fear among Finnish University Students: A National Survey. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 10245.

Psychological distress, dental health, and dental fear among Finnish university students : a national survey

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Author: Pohjola, Vesa1,2; Kunttu, Kristina3; Virtanen, Jorma I.4,5
Organizations: 1Medical Research Centre, Oulu University Hospital, 90220 Oulu, Finland
2Unit of Oral Health Sciences, University of Oulu, 90014 Oulu, Finland
3Finnish Student Health Service, 00260 Helsinki, Finland
4Institute of Dentistry, University of Turku, 20014 Turku, Finland
5Department of Clinical Dentistry, University of Bergen, 5020 Bergen, Norway
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-01-14


The aim of this study was to investigate the association between dental fear, psychological distress, and perceived symptoms of teeth controlled for age, gender, educational sector, and tobacco use. The data from the Finnish University Student Health Survey 2016 targeting students (n = 10,000) of academic universities and universities of applied sciences were used. Psychological distress was measured with the Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation 10 (CORE-10) and the General Health Questionnaire 12 (GHQ-12) and dental fear with the question ‘Do you feel scared about receiving dental care?’. The study included 3110 students. In logistic regression analyses those with psychological distress (measured with CORE-10 and GHQ-12) and those reporting teeth-related symptoms were more likely than their counterparts to have high dental fear. In gender-specific analyses men with psychological distress (measured with CORE-10) and women with teeth-related symptoms were more likely to have high levels of dental fear. Finnish university students with psychological distress and teeth-related symptoms were more likely to experience higher levels of dental fear than their counterparts were. The results of this study support possible common vulnerability factors that dental fear and other psychological disorders may share.

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Series: International journal of environmental research and public health
ISSN: 1661-7827
ISSN-E: 1660-4601
ISSN-L: 1661-7827
Volume: 18
Issue: 19
Article number: 10245
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph181910245
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 313 Dentistry
Copyright information: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (