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The aim of the present study was to investigate character and temperament dimensions of personality in six men and 31 women (aged 20–57 yr) with severe dental anxiety, and to evaluate whether these dimensions were associated with the level of dental anxiety. The Dental Anxiety Scale (DAS) and the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) were used. High ratings in novelty seeking and female gender predicted high DAS scores. Compared with controls, the patients scored significantly higher on the temperament dimension, novelty seeking. For character dimensions, the patients scored lower on cooperativeness and higher on self-transcendence than controls. Our results indicated that patients with dental anxiety are neurotic extravert (i.e. novelty seekers who experience brief dissociative periods and magical thinking). Furthermore, the combination of the inherited temperament dimension novelty seeking and the social learned character dimension cooperativeness and self-transcendence seem to form a vulnerable personality to develop dental anxiety.