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News / August 9, 2016

Watching cartoons eases child dental anxiety

by Guy Hiscott

Watching cartoons during dental treatment could lessen children’s anxiety, distress and disruptive behaviour.

In a study, 56 ‘uncooperative’ children underwent three separate treatment visits involving an oral examination, injection with local anaesthetic, and tooth restoration (max 30 minutes). The researchers monitored each child’s vital signs, blood pressure, and pulse. Children rated their own anxiety as well.

During treatment, the children in the distraction group exhibited significantly less anxiety and showed more cooperation than those in the control group, particularly during the local anaesthetic injection.

What’s more, the average pulse rate of children in the control group was significantly higher during the injection compared with children in the distraction group. However, the children themselves did not report differences in treatment-related pain and anxiety.


‘Audiovisual distraction seems to be a useful technique to calm children and ensure that they can be given the dental treatment they need,’ the authors conclude in a press release from Taylor & Francis Group. ‘However, because of the limited number of participants, further larger studies will be needed in general clinical settings to confirm the value of this audiovisual distraction tool.’

The 56 children were aged seven to nine years and attended a dental clinic at the Royal College of Dentistry, King Saud University in Saudi Arabia. They were randomly assigned to receive either audiovisual distraction (watching their favourite cartoons using the eyeglass system Merlin i-theatre) or no distraction (control group).

The study was published in Acta Odontologia Scandinavica. Read the full article online.