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Children are stressed by anesthesia during dental care

Children are stressed by anesthesia during dental care

Anesthetic injections into the mouth when teeth are extracted during orthodontic treatment cause strong stress effects in children. This is shown in a study that measured stress levels during various dental treatments.

In a pilot study conducted at the University of Gothenburg, children's stress associated with visiting the dentist was studied.

According to dentist Larisa Krykmanova, who conducts research at Sahlgrenska Academy, young patients do not always have the ability or courage to express negative experiences during ongoing dental care.

At the same time, we know that invasive tests and treatments are stressful for a large part of them, which can be due to fear or pain, she says and continues:

– It's the silent pressure we want, which is hard to detect and can remain invisible. The purpose of this research is to increase the therapist's responsiveness and raise the patient's voice, says Larisa Krykmanova.

Movements and sweating were measured

A pilot study included approximately 30 patients aged 14 to 16 years. They will either perform a regular check-up or treat with anesthesia injections and extract healthy molars in connection with orthodontics.

During treatment, participants were equipped with a scale that collected data on hand movements and sweating.

The measuring devices used for children come from the world of sports. The scale collects data on hand movements and hand sweating. This is measured by the electrical properties of the skin in what is called the galvanic skin response. Photo: Christian Jonasson/RISE

Anesthesia increased stress

The results showed that the children who underwent regular examination had sporadic peaks of stress. Patients who received more interventional treatment were significantly more exposed to stress for a longer period of time. They also followed a clear pattern. Some pressure has already been measured when the patient places the dentist's fingers in his mouth, which is checked with a mirror.

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However, the level of stress increased significantly when the anesthesia was administered in the form of a gel, but above all when local anesthesia was injected. Then the hand movements and sweating were stronger. During the tooth extraction itself, hand movements were somewhat weak while profuse sweating continued.

Children and young people are the most afraid of surgical procedures, and now we have a picture of the stress levels of various procedures. Being able to use the tool in real time in the future would support treatment staff to be able to monitor stress levels, and perhaps stop and take action before continuing treatment, says dentist Claudia Galdin, who performed the treatments.

It is important to act preventively against the fear and experience of pain in children and young people in the field of dental care.


A sensor for detecting young patient stress during surgical versus non-surgical dental treatment, a pilot study. The results of the pilot study were presented during the EAPD European Pediatric Dentistry Congress in Gothenburg.