Consumer News: Study shows cartoons lessen children’s anxiety about dental visits

A study from Saudi Arabia found that children who are provided with audiovisual distraction during dental treatment are more cooperative and less anxious.

The study, published online in July for the journal Acta Odontologica Scandinavica, observed 56 children patients as they went through three dental treatment visits. Using vital signs, blood pressure, pulse, the Facial Image Scale and a clinical rating of anxiety and cooperative behavior, the researchers found that children with an audiovisual distraction decreased stress in the test subjects.

The children in the study were between the ages of seven and nine and were deemed uncooperative patients from previous visits at the College of Dentistry at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. They were randomly assigned to either receive personal cinema glasses that played cartoons or no distraction. The patients were videotaped during their 30-minute appointments at the dental clinic.

Children in the cartoon group were roundly more cooperative and positive about their dental visit than those without a distraction, particularly during the appointment where all subjects received a local anesthesia injection. While the children did not report a difference in treatment pain or anxiety, the children without cartoons displayed much higher pulse rates.

The authors of this study stress that they need to investigate the results from this article further with more study participants.

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