Can Dental Anxiety detected with Galvanic Skin Response?

Dental anxiety is an emotional state during which various emotional/motivational changes (concern, fear, stress, and/or excitement) are observed. The effects of this anxiety can impact both the patient and the dentist. The majority of patients experience significant general stress due to previous experiences or environmental factors. Patients with severe anxiety cannot usually suppress their fear, and their emotional reactions, such as vomiting, crying, screaming, etc., may interfere with the surgical intervention. Therefore, general anaesthesia and/or sedation may be necessary. A detailed examination of the patient and the selection of an appropriate approach may help prevent the use of general anaesthesia and sedation; that is, it may allow for the intervention to be conducted under routine clinical conditions. Unnecessary and high-risk procedures are thus avoided, and an atmosphere of mutual trust is established between patient and dentist.

Electrodermal activity (EDA) known as galvanic skin response (GSR) enables the measurement of unconscious behaviours that cannot be voluntarily controlled. The skin is the largest organ of the body, and it reacts to all cognitive and emotional stimuli through an unconscious system controlled by the autonomous sympathetic nervous system. These reactions can be observed through changes in skin conductance, making the GSR technique an ideal biometric data collection tool for the investigation of emotional/motivational changes.

Dental Anxiety Can be Measured Biometrically with GSR Technique. The psychosomatic mood changes in the placebo patients, which until now could only be diagnosed by an experienced dentist, became detectable with biometric data collection. It was observed that certain words used by the surgeon during the operation had a negative impact on the psychosomatic state of the patients. These words, known as triggering words, may cause severe anxiety. Therefore, it was emphasized that the operation should be managed by the dentist with carefully selected communication tools. ConclusionIt was noticed that patients’ emotional/motivational changes during the phases of the operation could be identified using the analyses of their biometric data. The simultaneous measurement of biometric parameters may, in tandem with the dentist’s experience, enable the dentist to decide during the operation which procedures and approaches should be used with patients with dental anxiety. Regarding oral surgical interventions, an important step was taken toward the use of minimal surgical approaches instead of the use of additional sedation and/or general anaesthesia with the use of GSR and its components. Furthermore, we believe that this approach will also contribute to increasing patients’ trust and interaction with the dentist. In future studies, the emotional/motivational findings during the stages of oral surgery can be investigated, and procedure packages based on the patient-dentist interaction can be implemented to determine a suitable surgical approach for patients with dental anxiety. Moreover, further studies are required to investigate the integration of biometric data collection devices into dental units so that dentists have the possibility of instantly using current data to adjust their approach to patients with dental anxiety.
(PDF) Can Dental Anxiety During Impacted Third Molar Surgery Be Measured Biometrically? Clinical Study with the Galvanic Skin Response Technique.

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