Effectiveness of Robot-pets in Reducing Dental Anxiety in Children


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Dental anxiety is a psychological condition marked by fear and worry about potential negative experiences during dental treatment, often accompanied by a feeling of loss of control. Dental anxiety is common in children and adolescents and is associated with a lower quality of life related to oral health. Furthermore, it correlates with an increased incidence of untreated caries. Using behavioral management techniques can help children cope with dental anxiety, making it easier for them to undergo treatment in a positive and healthy way.

Primarily aim of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness of using a robot-pet to reduce dental anxiety in children. Additionally, the research aims to compare the efficacy of this technique with the audiovisual distraction technique and to evaluate children's perceptions regarding the use of a robot-pet.

Targeted Conditions

Study Overview

Start Date
October 2, 2023
Completion Date
May 17, 2024
Date Posted
February 6, 2024
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Full Address
Aydin, Efeler 09100, Turkey


Minimum Age (years)
Maximum Age (years)
Eligibility Criteria
Inclusion Criteria: : Children are eligible for inclusion if;

They are 6 to 10 years old
They have no previous dental treatment
They have at least one of the permanent first molars is fully erupted

Exclusion Criteria: Children will be excluded from the study if;

They do not have a parental agreement to participate
They need emergency care, such as dental trauma or pain
They have incomplete eruption of all permanent first molars
They have special health care needs, intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorders
They have phobia of animals such as cats or dogs
If their Frankl Behaviour Rating Score is 1 (Strongly Negative)

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Detailed Description
Dental anxiety is a universal phenomenon that affects people of all ages in different countries. This condition negatively affects the quality of life related to oral health in children and adults. Dental anxiety has a negative impact on children's oral and dental health. Studies have reported that children with dental anxiety have poorer oral hygiene and untreated dental caries.

Basic behavior management strategies are commonly employed in dental offices to shape a child's behavior, teach coping skills, instill positive attitudes, build trust, and enable effective and efficient treatment. These strategies include traditional techniques such as tell-show-do and voice control, as well as contemporary techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy and audio-visual distraction.

Tell-Show-Do (TSD) is a well-known basic behavioral technique. This technique involves verbally explaining dental procedures or instruments to the child using developmentally appropriate language. The visual, auditory, olfactory, and tactile aspects of the procedure are then demonstrated to the patient in a carefully defined, non-threatening environment. Finally, the procedure is performed without deviating from the initial explanation and demonstration.

Audiovisual distraction is a technique that combines visual and auditory components. It involves a spectacle system that consists of a head-mounted display and in-ear headphones. The aim is to reduce visual and auditory interference from the sounds and images of the dental working environment. This technique is intended to distract children during dental treatment by immersing them in a two- or three-dimensional world. According to some suggestions, this application may be more effective than traditional distraction methods due to its technological and engaging nature.

Animal-assisted therapy is a targeted intervention that uses a trained animal in a healthcare setting to improve patient interactions or reduce anxiety, pain, or distress. Appointments for animal-assisted therapy are scheduled for a specific time and duration, and the animals used have undergone temperament testing, rigorous training, and certification. According to a report, animals used during dental visits can help patients overcome communication barriers and reduce stress related to treatment by establishing a safe and relaxing relationship with the dentist. Animal-assisted therapies can increase children's compliance in the clinic and distract their attention. However, due to clinical hygiene conditions, it may pose risks to both trained animals and dental personnel. If necessary, precautions are taken, it can be applied. To eliminate the mentioned risks and difficulties, robots in cat/dog form can be used to apply this useful technique. In this context, it is important to keep up with developments in behavior management and assess their suitability for clinical practice. It is believed that using a robot-pet can enhance children's cooperation during dental procedures. This study provides guidance for clinicians on an alternative method of behavior management.


A total of 72 children aged 6-10 years with no previous dental experience, needs fissure sealant treatment will be included in this study. Children will be randomly assigned to three groups according to received distraction technique during fissure sealant application; each group having 24 patients as follows: Group-1: Robot-Pet, Group-2:Virtual Reality Glasses, and Group 3: Tell-Show-Do (Control). Anxiety levels and behaviors will be assessed at different timepoints. Preoperative (T1) baseline levels of dental anxiety will be measured using the Children's Fear Survey Schedule-Dental Subscale (CFSS-DS) and the Facial Image Scale (FIS), and behavior rating will be measured using the Frankl Behavior Rating Scale (FBRS). Intraoperative (T2) cooperation level will be recorded using the Modified Houpt Scale (MHS) during the surface cleaning (T2A), isolation (T2B) and washing (T2C) phases of fissure sealant application. Postoperative(T3) anxiety level and behavior rating measurements (CFSS-DS, FIS, FBRS) will be repeated. Physiological markers for dental anxiety, such as heart rate and oxygen saturation, will be measured at all time points (T1, T2A-B-C, T3). An independent evaluator, who will have been formally trained regarding the two behavior scales(FBRS,MHS), will observe and record all data. Children and parents in the Group 1 and 2 will received a questionnaire for their perception about the use of their distraction technique(T3).

Statistical Analyses:

The IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 25.0 (Released 2017, Armonk, NY: IBM Corp.) package program will be used for statistical analyses. Numeric variables without an issue of normal distribution fit will be compared among three groups using the One-Way Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) method. In cases where homogeneity is not established, the Welch Test will be employed for multiple comparisons, and Dunnett's T3 method for pairwise comparisons.All hypothesis tests will be conducted at a significance level of 0.05.
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