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Visit to the dentist office just got easier with the help of video games


A Quebec company is trying to make it easier for children to go to the dentist by using video games to distract them from the stress.

Jacob Abbruzzese, 10, was one of those using a virtual reality headset to keep his mind off the procedure and said it was one of the only times he was allowed to play as many video games as he wanted.

"My dad and my mom they don't really want me to go too much on it because it's going to fry my brain," he said.

With the headset on, children can somewhat forget about what the doctor is doing.

"That's where there's so much stuff on the wall so you're distracted from all the instruments because it does look like torture stuff," said dentist Dr. Elise Morency. "As soon as you put something that pushes away the tongue, which we need to do, it makes them gag right away. With the helmet, they start opening their mouth without me asking."

Morency has found the games are especially useful with autistic patients, where a visit to the dentist could mean sensory overload.

"We get in people's bubble a lot as a dentist," she said. "Just physically you're really close. The odours, the looks, everything is overstimulated. Even just leaning backwards and having someone come over here it's very intimidating. The autistic patients will react a lot to that. It keeps the visual and the auditive so intense that I can lessen the effect of the other things that I do."

The headsets were used during the COVID-19 vaccination campaign for kids who were nervous about getting a shot.

Starting next year, they will be studied at Sainte-Justine Hospital during dental work on neurodiverse patients.

"You're looking at sometimes very extensive procedures that can be very long and painful, so what we want to look at is the decrease in anxiety, pain, how easy it is to perform the procedure," said Jean-Simon FOrtin of Paperline Therapeutics. Top Stories

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