Virtual Reality Relaxation to Decrease Dental Anxiety: Immediate Effect Randomized Clinical Trial

S. Lahti (Lead / Corresponding author), A. Suominen, R. Freeman, T. Lahteenoja, G. Humphris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
103 Downloads (Pure)


Introduction: Dental anxiety is common and causes symptomatic use of oral health services.

Objectives: The aim was to study if a short-term virtual reality intervention reduced preoperative dental anxiety.

Methods: A randomized controlled single-center trial was conducted with 2 parallel arms in a public oral health care unit: virtual reality relaxation (VRR) and treatment as usual (TAU). The VRR group received a 1- to 3.5-min 360° immersion video of a peaceful virtual landscape with audio features and sound supporting the experience. TAU groups remained seated for 3 min. Of the powered sample of 280 participants, 255 consented and had complete data. Total and secondary sex-specific mixed effects linear regression models were completed for posttest dental anxiety (Modified Dental Anxiety Scale [MDAS] total score) and its 2 factors (anticipatory and treatment-related dental anxiety) adjusted for baseline (pretest) MDAS total and factor scores and age, taking into account the effect of blocking.

Results: Total and anticipatory dental anxiety decreased more in the VRR group than the TAU group (β = −0.75, P <.001, for MDAS total score; β = −0.43, P <.001, for anticipatory anxiety score) in patients of a primary dental care clinic. In women, dental anxiety decreased more in VRR than TAU for total MDAS score (β = −1.08, P <.001) and treatment-related dental anxiety (β = −0.597, P =.011). Anticipatory dental anxiety decreased more in VRR than TAU in both men (β = −0.217, P <.026) and women (β = −0.498, P <.001).

Conclusion: Short application of VRR is both feasible and effective to reduce preoperative dental anxiety in public dental care settings ( NCT03993080). Knowledge Transfer Statement: Dental anxiety, which is a common problem, can be reduced with short application of virtual reality relaxation applied preoperatively in the waiting room. Findings of this study indicate that it is a feasible and effective procedure to help patients with dental anxiety in normal public dental care settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-318
Number of pages7
JournalJDR Clinical and Translational Research
Issue number4
Early online date21 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020


  • clinical studies/trials
  • dental care
  • dental fear
  • public sector
  • relaxation technics
  • virtual reality immersion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Dentistry


Dive into the research topics of 'Virtual Reality Relaxation to Decrease Dental Anxiety: Immediate Effect Randomized Clinical Trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this