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Pain Research and Management
Volume 1, Issue 4, Pages 201-206
Original Article

Effect of Biological Sex Differences on the Perception of Acute Pain Stimulation in the Dental Setting

Ilana Eli,1 Yoram Bar-Tal,2 Zvi Fuss,1 and Ethan Korff

1Department of Occlusion and Behavioral Sciences, and Department of Endodontology, The Maurice and Gabriela Goldschleger School of Denial Medicine, Israel
2Department of Nursing, School of Health Professionals, The Sackler Eacully of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Copyright © 1996 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Pain is a subjective sensory and emotional experience that is influenced by variables such as stress, anxiety and sex.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the interrelationship among sex, state and dental anxiety, and the patient's reaction to diagnostic tooth pulp stimulation.

SUBJECTS AND DESIGN: The study was conducted on 64 dental patients (age 18 to 78 years, 50% were female). All subjects were evaluated twice. At time 1, subjects were requested to fill out questionnaires concerning their state and dental anxiety, and participants underwent diagnostic tooth pulp stimulation by an electric pulp tester. Four variables of the experience were recorded: sensation threshold, pain threshold, pain tolerance and the subjective evaluation of the painful experience on a visual analogue scale (VAS). At time 2, subjects were requested to record their memory of the previous experience on a VAS, and the whole procedure was repeated including record of state and dental anxiety, sensation and pain thresholds, pain tolerance and its subjective evaluation on a VAS.

RESULTS: No direct correlations were found between sex and any other variable. However, there were significant differences in the relationship among the different pain and anxiety measures between both sexes.

CONCLUSIONS: A man's reaction to acute pain stimulation may be more affected by psychological factors than a woman's.