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Study examines children's fear of dental care
Updated: 2/23/2009 5:01:11 PM

Study examines children A new study has emerged stating a sensory environment within a dentist's office may be beneficial for children who have heightened anxiety while getting dental care, especially for those with developmental disabilities.

Dr. Michele Shapiro of the Issie Shapiro Educational Center studied the effects of the sensory environment, which includes sights, sounds and lights, on the anxiety levels of children.

The researchers examined 35 children between the ages of 6 and 11 years. Sixteen of the participants were developmentally disabled.

The study included two different trips to the dentist's office. The first incorporated the traditional elements of a regular checkup, such as the use of an overhead dental lamp.

On the second trip, the researchers modified the office and placed a slow-moving repetitive color lamp and the dental hygienist wore a special LED headlamp directed into the child's mouth. The participants also listened to soothing music and were wrapped in a heavy vest to create a "hugging" effect.

Shapiro found the anxiety levels decreased in all the children when the sensory-adapted environment was used, with the reduction more notable in the children with developmental disabilities.

"This new approach may even replace sedatives and other invasive procedures in the future," Shapiro said.

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