Original document was submitted as an honors thesis requirement. Copyright is held by the author.

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Dental anxiety is a condition that plagues millions of individuals worldwide. The cause of anxiety can arise from an array of negative experiences related to dentistry. Additionally, the media’s persistent deleterious portrayal of dentistry affects the public’s fears and skews the people’s general perception of how dentists really are. Nevertheless, people continue to seek dental care for medial and cosmetic purposes, despite major challenges in the healthcare systems. This study aimed to understand whether negative images of dentists would influence how anxious a sample of undergraduate students felt about various dental procedures. The study also asked participants to express their beliefs about dentists and dentistry in general. Finally, it examined the frequency in which this sample visited the dentist and which factors may have influenced their fears, beliefs and activities related to dentistry. The results of the study confirmed the hypothesis that this sample would somewhat regularly visit the dentist despite dental-related anxiety. The hypothesis that people who were shown the negative clip of the dentist would perceive dentists in a more negative light was rejected, as nearly all participants in both groups had an overall positive opinion about dentists. This result showed us how we can screen the images we see in the media and we are desensitized, therefore the surface anxiety these images may provoke are negligible This study confirmed that hypothesis that freshmen would be more reliant on parents to make their dental appointments when compared to upperclassmen was also confirmed in this study. Limitations of this study included a small, similar sample size, a lengthy survey, as well as technical difficulties that may have impacted some of the results of the survey. Future studies on this topic would benefit from a longitudinal study about how dental fears and perceptions change as students become more independent.