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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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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What To Expect During a DENTAL VISIT

On your first visit, your dentist will take a full health history. On follow-up visits, if your health status has changed, make sure to tell your dentist. Here’s what you can expect during most trips to the dentist.

  • A Thorough Cleaning – a dental hygienist or dentist will scrape along and below the gum line to remove built-up plaque and tartar that can cause gum disease, cavities, bad breath and other problems. Then he or she will polish and floss your teeth.

  • A Full Dental Examination – your dentist will perform a thorough examination of your teeth, gums and mouth, looking for signs of disease or other problems.

  • X-Rays – X-rays can diagnose problems otherwise unnoticed, such as damage to jawbones, impacted teeth, abscesses, cysts or tumors, and decay between the teeth.