Making a trip to the dentist enjoyable

Going to the dentist in Witney has been made much more enjoyable with the addition of two new ceiling installations that show scenes from nature designed to help soothe anxious patients.

Making a trip to the dentist enjoyable

Going to the Witney dental clinic has been made a lot more relaxing following the addition of special LED ceiling screens that show either a soothing static image of the sky or can play a choice of nature-themed films. They are designed to help relax and distract anxious patients enabling the dentist to examine them and carry out any treatments. They have already been shown to reduce patients’ anxiety levels, particularly in children.

These installations have been made possible with funding from Oxford Health Charity. It uses donations from members of the public to enhance the experience of those using the services or working with the Trust. Charitable donations are not used to fund NHS services.

The clinic specialises in dental care for children and adults who cannot be treated in a general dental practice due to them having learning or physical disabilities; anxiety or phobia; mental health issues or specific medical conditions such as patients with neurological conditions such as those who have had a stroke or have Parkinson’s disease. As a result, they may find going to the dentist particularly distressing so trying to keep them calm is very important.

The special screens are installed in two clinics. The static screen consists of eight ceiling tiles measuring 2m x 4m square and shows an image of the sky with clouds and hot air balloons. The other surgery has a ‘living’ screen where patients can watch one of a number of films such as underwater scenes with fish and other marine life or trees and clouds.  The screen is positioned in the ceiling above the dentist’s chair allowing patients to view the screen comfortably whilst in the dental chair.

Puja Kalawadia, Senior Dental Officer for Oxford Health, Community Dental Services said: “The addition of the screens has been a great success, both with patients and our staff. For our patients, they really help to reduce the stress and anxiety that people sometimes feel when coming to the dentist.  One young person wouldn’t even sit in the chair before we had the living screen installed, but it was a great way of engaging with them. Once it was in place they sat in the dental chair without any problem and allowed me to check their teeth. That was a real breakthrough.”

Vicki Power, Senior Programme Manager, Thames Valley Community Dental Services commented: “For my colleagues in the clinic, this digital innovation has brought much joy and excitement as they can see the benefit it has on their patients. We will now be introducing a formal structured Quality Improvement project that will aim to measure how much the anxiety levels of our patients have reduced since we’ve had the LED ceilings installed.”

Julie Pink, Head of Charity and Involvement at Oxford Health said: “We are very proud to have been able to fund the installation of these devices. It’s wonderful that something that is quite a simple idea can have such a positive impact on our patients in such a short space of time. Many people get stressed about going to the dentist and Witney’s patient group includes some very vulnerable adults and children so anything that can help them with that anxiety is to be welcomed.”


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Published: 7 February 2023