Watching cartoons through video glasses during dental treatment could help lessen children’s anxiety and distress as well as reducing disruptive behavior, according to a randomized controlled trial published in Acta Odontologia Scandinavica.
Anxiety about visiting the dentist and during treatment is common in children. 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 (control group). Children underwent three separate (max 30 min) treatment visits involving an oral examination, injection with local anaesthetic, and tooth restoration. The researchers measured the anxiety 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.
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