Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Dentistry



First Advisor

Brickhouse, Tegwyn


Purpose: The study investigated if viewing a simulated dental exam on virtual reality glasses between two visits would desensitize participants with autism spectrum disorder to the dental environment and improve their anxiety and behavior.

Methods: This randomized prospective cohort study compared behavior between a Control Group and Experimental Group who wore the glasses between visits. Blinded raters watched video recordings of participants and assessed behavior using the Venham scale. Heart rate and post-visit questionnaires completed by guardians were also analyzed.

Results: Five subjects were enrolled (two in the Control and three in the Experimental groups). The median heart rate at visit one was 61 and reduced to 55 for visit two. The maximum heart rate was always observed in the waiting room (n=10, 100%). Raters agreed on anxiety scores for 10% of visits and 80% for behavior scores (k=0.2, 0.5 respectively). Guardians that completed the post-study surveys agreed (n=3, 100%) the glasses were easy to use, enjoyed by the child, and improved anxiety and cooperation at visit two.

Conclusion: Although not statistically significant, median heart rate deceased and behavior stayed the same or improved at the second visit in both groups. The maximum heart rate was observed in the waiting room at each visit. Post-visit questionnaires demonstrated high guardian satisfaction with the virtual reality simulation and they felt their child’s anxiety and behavior improved at the second visit.


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