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Open Access

Dog-assisted therapy for control of anxiety in pediatric dentistry

  • Sérgio Luiz Pinheiro1,*,
  • Camila Silva2
  • Lidiane Luiz2
  • Nubia Silva2
  • Rafaela Fonseca2
  • Thaís Velásquez2
  • Diana Roberta Grandizoli3

1Center for Life Sciences, Postgraduate Program in Health Sciences, Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Campinas (PUC-Campinas), 13034-685 Campinas, SP, Brazil

2Department of Pediatric Dentistry, PUC-Campinas, 13034-685 Campinas, SP, Brazil

3Center for Life Sciences, Postgraduate Program in Health Sciences, PUC-Campinas, 13034-685 Campinas, SP, Brazil

DOI: 10.22514/jocpd.2023.080 Vol.47,Issue 6,November 2023 pp.38-43

Submitted: 14 February 2023 Accepted: 12 April 2023

Published: 03 November 2023

*Corresponding Author(s): Sérgio Luiz Pinheiro E-mail:


Anxiety is common in pediatric dental care, and affects the behavioral management of children. Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) has been shown to improve children’s behavior. However, few studies have applied this technique in dentistry. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the applicability of dog-assisted therapy to control anxiety during pediatric dental treatment. Twenty children were selected from the Pediatric Dentistry Clinic of the Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas (PUC-Campinas), Brazil. Participants were divided into two groups: Control (n = 11; visits = 16), in which children were conditioned by methods routinely used in the clinic; and AAT (n = 9; visits = 23), in which children had contact with a dog therapist first at the reception desk and then again inside the office. The dog therapist stayed beside the dental chair with the child throughout the procedures. Corah’s Dental Anxiety Scale (CS) and heart rate (HR) were used for evaluation of child anxiety. The results were tested for normality of distribution with the Shapiro-Wilk method, and subsequently analyzed in BioEstat 5.0. HR results were compared by Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) with Tukey’s test, and CS scores, with the Wilcoxon test. There was a significant reduction in HR in the AAT group (p = 0.0069). In the Control group, HR did not change before, during, or after treatment (p = 0.6052). Controls showed a significant increase in anxiety measured by CS before and after treatment (p = 0.0455). In the AAT group, there was no change in CS scores before and after treatment (p = 0.3739). AAT could be an alternative to reduce anxiety during pediatric dental care.


Anxiety; Pediatric dentistry; Animal assisted therapy; Dogs

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Sérgio Luiz Pinheiro,Camila Silva,Lidiane Luiz,Nubia Silva,Rafaela Fonseca,Thaís Velásquez,Diana Roberta Grandizoli. Dog-assisted therapy for control of anxiety in pediatric dentistry. Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry. 2023. 47(6);38-43.


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