Tara Pilkington | Contributing Writer | Thursday, 15 June 2017

Going To The Dentist May Soon Become A Whole Lot More Fun

Going To The Dentist May Soon Become A Whole Lot More Fun

The Debrief: And it's all thanks to the magic of virtual reality

According to statistics from the Oral Health Foundation, almost half of UK adults have a fear of the dentist, with 12% of these suffering from an extreme dental anxiety.

Both dentists and patients alike are constantly searching for ways to make dental work less traumatic, and one possible answer could be found in virtual reality. 

In a study published by Environment and Behaviour, researchers have found that there could be a promising future in the use of virtual reality as a form of acute pain management. 

In this study researchers got 80 participants, all people who needed a cavity filled or a tooth pulled out, and separated them into three groups. The first group got to explore a beach using a virtual reality headset, the second group got to navigate a city using virtual reality and a third control group had no VR headset and just had to stare at the ceiling during their procedure. 

Patients were interviewed both immediately after their appointments and again a week later, and the results found that nature can improve the experience of health care procedures via the use of virtual reality. Results also found that the most successful virtual context was coastal nature, as participants that had experienced this variable in the experiment reported less stress and pain compared to the other two groups. 

However, as this was a relatively small-scale study, more research needs to be conducted to see how well these results really hold up.

If this is the start of a new trend for virtual reality being used as a distraction within the context of healthcare, then imagine how much more fun going to the dentist could be?! Regardless of your commitment to dental hygiene, being able to explore the ocean or travel into space sounds like a pretty good incentive to book that appointment that you’ve been putting off for a while… 

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