Behavioural and physiological effect of dental environment sensory adaptation on children's dental anxiety

Eur J Oral Sci. 2007 Dec;115(6):479-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0722.2007.00490.x.


Dental anxiety is a serious obstacle in conventional oral healthcare delivery. A sensory adapted dental environment (SDE) might be effective in reducing anxiety and inducing relaxation. This study aimed to assess the efficacy of a Snoezelen SDE in reducing anxiety among children undergoing scaling and polishing by a dental hygienist. The Snoezelen environment consists of a partially dimmed room with lighting effects, vibroacoustic stimuli, and deep pressure. Nineteen children, aged 6-11 yr, participated in a cross-over intervention trial. Behavioral parameters included the mean number, duration, and magnitude of anxious behaviors, as monitored by videotaped recordings. Physiological parameters reflecting arousal were monitored by changes in dermal resistance. Results, by all measures, consistently indicated that both behavioral and psychophysiological measures of relaxation improved significantly in the SDE compared with a conventional dental environment. The findings support recommending the SDE as an effective and practical alternative in oral healthcare delivery to anxious children.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Child
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dental Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Dental Anxiety / psychology
  • Dental Polishing / psychology*
  • Dental Scaling / psychology*
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response*
  • Humans
  • Lighting*
  • Male
  • Music
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pressure
  • Surveys and Questionnaires