Managing children’s stress responses to dental procedures is a problem that has made receiving dental care for young children and their parents difficult. The field of Applied Behavior Analysis has demonstrated a possible solution to the problem that does not require sedation of children. In a recent study focused on reducing children’s stress response to dental procedures. Behavior management skills were used to reduce the time to provide dental procedures, decrease chances of injuries, and increase the value of dental care This study involved children from ages two to nine, who received local anesthesia for fillings, crowns, tooth extraction. Some of the specific behaviors that were managed were disruptive physical movements, complaints, moaning, and crying.
The basic concept of the experiment was for the dentists to use a special timer known as the MotivAider so that the dentists could deliver breaks from dental procedures. The study involved one group of children who received dental procedures in a typical fashion, and another group of children who were given 8s to 10s breaks. In the group of children who received breaks the dentists would slowly increase the time between breaks throughout the procedure. The goal of the study was to have the children disruptive less than %30 of the time during a dental procedure
Children who did not receive breaks from the dental procedures were disruptive about %31 percent of the time while children who received breaks were only disruptive about %20 of the time. In addition the children that received breaks had decreased levels of physical disruptiveness, and decreased amounts of verbal disruptions. One of the results also is that the two dentists involved in the study were pleased with the procedure and expressed a desire to use the behavior management plan in the future.
These results present a potential solution for parents of young children who have to deal with potentially painful dental procedures. Children who receive routine breaks during a dental procedure will less likely or have decreased amounts of verbal disruptions and physical disruptions, and these children will not need as much physical restraining. Another benefit of the implementation of the behavior management procedures did not significantly increase the amount of time needed to complete a procedure at the dentist office. The dentists did not have to be highly trained in behavior management to be successful with the treatment. This means that this procedure is mentally, physically and financially beneficial to children, parents, and dentists. For more information please review the study at the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis.
Allen, K. D. & Wallace, D. P. (2013). Effectiveness of using noncontingent escape for general behavior management in a pediatric dental clinic. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 46, 723-737.