Watching cartoons could help children overcome anxiety of dental treatment

August 8, 2016, Taylor & Francis
Watching cartoons could help children overcome anxiety of dental treatment
Illustration of the AV distraction eyeglass goggle Merlin i-theatre in a clinical setting. Credit: Taylor & Francis

Watching cartoons through video glasses during dental treatment could help lessen children's anxiety and distress as well as reducing disruptive behaviour, according to a randomized controlled trial published in Acta Odontologia Scandinavica.

Anxiety about visiting the dentist and during treatment is common in . Estimates suggest that as many as 1 in 5 school age children are afraid of dentists. Children with dental phobias end up experiencing more dental pain and are more disruptive during treatment. Although studies have shown that audiovisual distraction (eg, playing video games and watching TV) can be successful in minimizing distress and the perception of pain during short invasive medical procedures, the issue of whether distraction is beneficial during dental procedures is still hotly debated. Research to date has produced conflicting results.

In this study, 56 'uncooperative' children (aged 7 to 9 years) attending a dental clinic at the Royal College of Dentistry, King Saud University in Saudi Arabia were randomly assigned to receive either audiovisual distraction (watching their favourite cartoons using the eyeglass system Merlin i-theatre) or no distraction (). Children underwent three separate (max 30 min) treatment visits involving an oral examination, injection with local anaesthetic, and tooth restoration. The researchers measured the levels and cooperative behavior of the children during each visit using an anxiety and behavior scale, and monitored each child's vital signs, blood pressure, and pulse (indirect measures of anxiety). Children also rated their own anxiety and pain during each procedure.

During treatment, the children in the distraction group exhibited significantly less anxiety and showed more cooperation than those in the control group, particularly during the local anaesthetic injection. What's more, the average pulse rate of children in the control group was significantly higher during the injection compared with children in the distraction group. However, the children themselves did not report differences in -related pain and anxiety.

The authors conclude that audiovisual distraction seems to be a useful technique to calm children and ensure that they can be given the they need. However, they caution that because of the limited number of participants, further larger studies will be needed in general clinical settings to confirm the value of this audiovisual distraction tool.

Explore further: Distraction methods during blood draws have similar effectiveness

More information: Amal Al-Khotani et al. Effects of audiovisual distraction on children's behaviour during dental treatment: a randomized controlled clinical trial, Acta Odontologica Scandinavica (2016). DOI: 10.1080/00016357.2016.1206211

Related Stories

Distraction methods during blood draws have similar effectiveness

May 2, 2016
(HealthDay)—Three different distraction methods are not significantly different in terms of pain and anxiety reduction in children having their blood drawn, according to a study published online April 26 in the Journal ...

Watching cartoons reduces stress in children undergoing immunisation

April 29, 2015
Watching cartoons can reduce pain and distress in children undergoing immunisation before, during and after the procedure, a study in Italy has found.

Playing videos reduces anxiety before pediatric surgery

November 2, 2012
(HealthDay)—Children who watch a video clip of their choice during induction of inhaled anesthesia are less anxious than children who receive traditional distraction methods, according to a study published in the November ...

One in four Aussie kids under 10 has untreated tooth decay

May 19, 2016
Results of a national oral health survey led by the University of Adelaide show that a quarter of all Australian children aged 10 and under has untreated tooth decay.

For children with autism, trips to the dentist just got easier

May 11, 2015
Going to the dentist might have just gotten a little less scary for the estimated 1 in 68 U.S. children with autism spectrum disorder as well as children with dental anxiety, thanks to new research from USC.

Recommended for you

Absence of a transcription factor halts tooth development in mid-stride

April 11, 2018
Amjad Javed, Ph.D., and University of Alabama at Birmingham colleagues have found a key role in tooth development for the transcription factor Specificity protein 7, or Sp7.

Toothpaste alone does not prevent dental erosion or hypersensitivity

March 14, 2018
The rising prevalence of dental erosion and dentin hypersensitivity has led to the emergence of more toothpastes that claim to treat these problems. While no such toothpaste existed 20 years ago, today, many such brands are ...

Study: Absence of key protein, TTP, rapidly turns young bones old

March 10, 2018
The absence of a protein critical to the control of inflammation may lead to rapid and severe bone loss, according to a new University at Buffalo study.

Sipping hot fruit teas can lead to tooth erosion

February 26, 2018
An investigation by scientists at King's College London into why some people suffer tooth erosion while others don't has found that it's not just what they eat and drink, but how they eat and drink, that increases their chances ...

Lack of guidance may delay a child's first trip to the dentist

February 19, 2018
Without a doctor or dentist's guidance, some parents don't follow national recommendations for early dental care for their children, a new national poll finds.

Researcher uses stem cells to attack bacteria and regenerate dental pulp

February 7, 2018
Emi Shimizu's research could someday transform a procedure dental patients dread: the root canal.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.