The use of a respiratory rate biofeedback device to reduce dental anxiety: an exploratory investigation

Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2011 Jun;36(2):63-70. doi: 10.1007/s10484-011-9148-z.


Anxiety experienced by individuals visiting the dental office to receive treatment is common. Evidence has shown biofeedback to be a useful modality of treatment for numerous maladies associated with anxiety. The purpose of the current pilot study was to investigate the use of a novel biofeedback device (RESPeRATE™) to reduce patients' pre-operative general anxiety levels and consequently reduce the pain associated with dental injections. Eighty-one subjects participated in this study, forty in the experimental group and forty-one in the control group. Subjects in the experimental group used the biofeedback technique, while those in the control group were not exposed to any biofeedback. All subjects filled out a pre-injection anxiety survey, then received an inferior alveolar injection of local anesthetic. Post-injection, both groups were given an anxiety survey and asked to respond to four questions regarding the injection experience using a Visual Analog Scale (VAS). With the use of the respiratory rate biofeedback device, there was a significant reduction of negative feelings regarding the overall injection experience, as measured by a VAS. Our findings demonstrate that this novel biofeedback technique may be helpful in the amelioration of dental anxiety, and may help produce a more pleasant overall experience for the patient.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biofeedback, Psychology / methods*
  • Dental Anxiety / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Respiratory Rate*
  • Treatment Outcome