Effects of audiovisual distraction during dental prophylaxis

J Am Dent Assoc. 2001 Jul;132(7):1031-8. doi: 10.14219/jada.archive.2001.0309.


Background: Fear and anxiety often inhibit patients from seeking dental care. Audiovisual, or A/V, distraction techniques have been shown to reduce patient anxiety and pain during dental procedures. The authors investigated the effects of a virtual image A/V eyeglass system on patients' anxiety and pain.

Methods: Twenty-seven routine dental prophylaxis patients participated and completed the Dental Fear Survey and the Fear of Pain Questionnaire-III before treatment. In random order, the clinician scaled and polished two quadrants in subjects while they watched and listened to a standard video using the A/V eyeglasses and two quadrants while they did not. A posttreatment questionnaire was administered to both the patient and the clinician.

Results: Subjects reported less anxiety and discomfort when using the A/V eyeglass system than when they did not. Most subjects preferred to use the A/V equipment rather than receive traditional treatment. The clinician experienced no significant technical interference during the use of the A/V device. The use of the A/V eyeglasses led to decreased treatment time in the first one-half of the procedure. The system appeared to lead to some decreases in the physiological parameters over the course of treatment, with the highest systolic blood pressure occurring after the condition with no use of A/V eyeglasses.

Conclusions: A virtual image A/V system is beneficial in the reduction of fear, pain and procedure time for most dental prophylaxis patients.

Clinical implications: Use of screening questionnaires may be helpful for identifying anxious patients. An A/V device may be beneficial to the clinician and the mildly or moderately anxious patient.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Attitude to Health
  • Audiovisual Aids*
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Dental Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Dental Anxiety / prevention & control
  • Dental Anxiety / psychology
  • Dental Hygienists
  • Dental Prophylaxis* / psychology
  • Dental Scaling / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain / prevention & control
  • Pain / psychology
  • Pulse
  • Respiration
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • User-Computer Interface*