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Int J Paediatr Dent. 2019 Mar 25. doi: 10.1111/ipd.12499. [Epub ahead of print]

Use of distraction techniques for the management of anxiety and fear in paediatric dental practice: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials.

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Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, School of Dentistry, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil.



To determine whether distraction techniques (DT) reduce children's/adolescent's anxiety and fear during dental treatment.


Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in which any type of DT were used to manage dental anxiety and dental fear in children/adolescents were included. A systematic search of PubMed, Web of Science, Scopus, Cochrane Library, Lilacs, and Google Scholar was conducted. Two independent reviewers selected studies, extracted data, assessed methodological quality of studies using the Cochrane Collaboration's Risk of Bias tool (CCRBT), and approached certainty of evidence using GRADE (Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation). Data were analysed descriptively.


Twenty studies covering several types of DT (audio, audiovisual, instruments camouflage, biofeedback, dental operating microscope, toys) were included. Qualitative analysis showed with very low certainty of evidence that DT effectively reduced dental anxiety and fear depending on the distraction type, instrument used to measure dental anxiety and dental fear, and dental procedure. CCRBT evaluation identified many methodological issues in included studies.


There is a very low certainty of evidence that DT can be effective in managing children's/adolescents' dental fear and anxiety during dental treatment. The heterogeneity of methodologies and findings in the studies, however, suggests more robust, and well-executed RCTs are needed.


child behaviour; dental anxiety; dental fear; distraction


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