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Effect of Sensory Adaptation on Anxiety of Children With Developmental Disabilities: A New Approach

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Purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of a sensory-adapted dental environment (SADE) on anxiety, relaxation, and cooperation of children with developmental disabilities (CDDs). Pharmacological treatment has been widely used to reduce anxiety, but nonpharmacological methods may be similarly effective. The standardized clinical situation chosen was a dental hygiene cleaning. Methods: A SADE was structured. Sixteen CDDs participated in an open cross-over intervention trial measuring behavioral and psychophysiological variables. Results: There was a substantial increase in relaxation and cooperation in the SADE as opposed to the regular dental environment (RDE). This was reflected by: mean duration of anxious behaviors (SADE=9.04 minutes vs RDE=23.44 minutes; P<.01); mean magnitude of anxious behaviors (SADE=8.49 vs RDE=15.50; P<.01); cooperation levels (SADE=3.31 vs RDE=1.94; P<.01); mean electrodermal activity (EDA; SADE=1,230 vs RDE=446; P<.001); and difference in degree of relaxation by EDA (SADE=2,014 vs RDE=763; P<.004). Conclusions: The findings indicate the potential importance of considering the sensory-adapted environment as a preferable dental environment for this population.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-05-01

More about this publication?
  • Pediatric Dentistry is the official publication of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry and the College of Diplomates of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry. It is published bi-monthly and is internationally recognized as the leading journal in the area of pediatric dentistry. The journal promotes the practice, education and research specifically related to the specialty of pediatric dentistry. This peer-reviewed journal features scientific articles, case reports and abstracts of current pediatric dental research.
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