Dental Tribune America

Review shows distraction techniques may reduce dental anxiety

By Dental Tribune International
June 19, 2019

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil: Dental anxiety is globally regarded as a public health concern owing to its effects on an individual’s oral health and quality of life. The prevalence of the condition in children ranges from 5% to 61%. A recent systematic review assessed whether distraction techniques reduce anxiety during dental treatments in children and adolescents.

Twenty randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of distraction techniques for the management of dental anxiety and dental fear in children and adolescents under the age of 18 were included. Among the distraction techniques used were audio and audiovisual techniques, instrument camouflage, biofeedback, a dental operating microscope and toys. Dental treatments provided were dental examination, oral prophylaxis, local anesthesia, dental restoration, endodontic treatment and extraction.

Qualitative analysis showed with very low certainty of evidence that distraction techniques effectively reduced anxiety and fear depending on the distraction type, instrument used to measure anxiety and fear, and procedure. The authors thus concluded: “The heterogeneity of methodologies and findings in the studies, however, suggests more robust, and well‐executed RCTs are needed.”

The study, titled “Use of distraction techniques for the management of anxiety and fear in paediatric dental practice: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials,” was published online in the International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry on March 25, 2019, ahead of inclusion in an issue.

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