Many children are afraid of going to the dentist, and their anxieties often interfere with treatment. Video goggles, however, may help as these patients watch their favorite TV shows or movies while the members of the dental team conduct their work.
In a recent study, 56 “uncooperative” children ages 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 or no distraction at all.
The children underwent 3 separate treatment visits involving an oral examination, an injection with a local anesthetic, and tooth restoration. The researchers measured their anxiety levels and cooperative behavior and monitored their vital signs, blood pressure, and pulse. The children rated their own anxiety and pain during each procedure as well.
The children in the distraction group, who watched their favorite cartoons using the Merlin i-theatre eyeglass system, exhibited significantly less anxiety and showed more cooperation than those in the control group, particularly during the local anesthetic injection.
Also, the average pulse rate of children in the control group was significantly higher during the injection compared to the children in the distraction group. However, the children themselves did not report differences in treatment-related pain and anxiety.
The researchers conclude that audiovisual distraction is a useful for calming children and ensuring they can get the treatment they need. Yet due to the limited number of participants, the researchers said, further and larger studies will be needed in general clinical settings.