Children can spend hours in front of a screen watching cartoons. They love them, and studies show that dentists can play cartoons in the office to comfort children during checkups and treatment.
Research shows that about one in five school-age children experience anxiety about going to the dentist or receiving dental treatment. Children who are afraid of dentists are claimed to experience more dental pain, and also tend to be more disruptive during treatment.
Fortunately, new research suggests that audio-visual distraction, such as watching TV and playing video games could help reduce the child’s anxiety, distress, and disruptive behavior by reducing the perception of pain during short dental procedures.
Findings from the Study
In the study involving 56 “stubborn” children aged between 7 and 9 years attending a dental clinic, a portion of the group was designated to wear an eyeglass system through which they could watch their favorite cartoons, while the control group received no kind of audio-visual distraction whatsoever.
The children then went through three different treatment visits of a maximum of 30 minutes involving an oral checkup, administration of local anesthetic via injection, and tooth restoration. The researchers monitored each child’s anxiety levels and cooperative behavior during each visit, as well as their vital signs, pulse, and blood pressure. The children were also asked to rate their pain and anxiety level during each procedure.
The researchers found that children who received audio-visual distraction were considerably less anxious and more cooperative compared to those in the control group. The biggest difference between the two groups was during the administration of the local anesthetic, where the pulse rate of the children in the control group was much higher. That said, the children did not report differences in any pain or anxiety when receiving treatment.
Importance of Audio-visual Distractions During Dental Treatment for Children
The research clearly shows that audio-visual distraction by allowing children to watch their favorite cartoons during dental treatment is an effective technique for calming children and ensuring that they receive the necessary treatment.
But even with these benefits, there is still a large number of dental practices that don’t have screens in their examination rooms where children can watch something of interest while receiving treatment. But there are many other ways to reduce anxiety in the dental office, such as giving the children sunglasses so they don’t focus on the glaring light, or providing toys, games, and other fun items so that visiting the dentist becomes like any other exciting trip, according to Pasadena dentist, Dr. Sona Asatryan.