Nature-based VR experiences 'can reduce dental anxiety'

Dental / Dental Practitioner News

People who are anxious about dental treatment could be helped to relax through the use of virtual reality (VR) experiences.

Research from the University of Plymouth has found that putting patients in a VR headset, where they can experience a simulation of being in nature, can reduce anxiety levels while they are being treated.

“Virtual reality experiences simulating being in nature can help to reduce anxiety among people undergoing dental treatment, according to a new study.“

A total of 70 patients participated in the study, with one group receiving standard care, while another was treated while experiencing an urban environment via VR, and a third group received a nature-based simulation.

The experience of pain was shown to be much lower among the people in the nature VR group, while the urban VR and standard care groups performed roughly the same.

This came as a surprise to researchers, as it suggested that the choice of a natural setting played a big role in helping to settle anxiety, rather than this simply being a consequence of the distraction provided by the VR set.

Co-author Sabine Pahl from the University of Plymouth told BBC News: "There is a high percentage of people with dentist anxiety, and their teeth tend to be in a worse state … We are trying to intervene in that dental anxiety process."

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