Going to the Dentist

What is Snoezelen®

The word Snoezelen® derives from two Dutch words; Snuffelen (to seek out) and Doezelen (to relax). It was originated in Holland in the early 1980s as a concept of recreation and relaxation for disabled adults leading to a landmark publication by Ad Verheul and Jan Hulsegge in 1987 referring to the “Snoezelen” approach.

Initially Snoezelen® and Multi Sensory rooms and products had no other purpose than enjoyment, however over the past 35 years their use has extended to assist all ages and ability levels.

Snoezelen® environments are very similar to Multi Sensory Environments (MSE) and are alike in look and feel in many ways. However, only Rompa® can provide a true Snoezelen® environment. We believe that it is the use of the environment and the Snoezelen® principle which is far more important than the products in it.

Aroma Products

Snoezelen® for Dentistry

In a dental practice managing anxiety and pain can be an issue, particularly when working with young children, as well as those who have learning difficulties, cognitive impairment such as memory loss and mental health disorders. The use of Snoezelen® equipment in the waiting room will create a feeling of calm and will help those who are anxious to relax. The equipment will also provide a distraction prior to treatment and a rewarding experience post treatment. A Snoezelen® space may include a bubble tube for visual stimulus, a tactile panel to interact with and gentle music (Shapiro et al., 2007).

  • Reduce Anxiety and Agitation (Collier et al., 2010)
  • Increase Awareness (Poza et al., 2012)
  • Reduce Perception of Pain (Scholfield, 2002)

In the treatment room carefully placed visual equipment such as the effect wheel or Laser Sky Projector will help distract the individual when they are in the treatment chair. The use of music with a slow tempo possibly via headphones, to block out clinical sounds, will help reduce heightened arousal and subsequently influence feelings of anxiety (Collier et al., 2010). The use of a weighted blanket will also reduce feelings of anxiety through deep pressure touch (Mullen et al., 2008). The Snoezelen® equipment can be adapted for each individual thereby offering a person centred approach to your care.

Tactile Products

What can cause Dental Anxiety?

Understanding the issue can help reduce the problem

For many people, visiting the dentist can be a very uncomfortable or a traumatic experience. For some anxiety can become an extreme phobia, resulting in them never visiting a dentist at all. The most common fears include:

  • Smell - The olfactory sense is very powerful and emotive. For some, this can trigger anxiety within the dental environment.
  • Mood and emotions can be adjusted with the use of scents. Aromas can mask the smell reducing the negative memory attached to it.
  • Sight - How you are dressed and how your equipment looks can all contribute to the patients anxiety.
  • Distract your patients with projection or provide them with something to look at whilst you work on their teeth.
  • Touch - The feeling of someone putting fingers or instruments in the mouth can be overwhelming.
  • Our sense of touch keeps us in contact with our surroundings. Using tactile objects can help by providing distraction and comfort.
  • Sound - The sound of a high pitch drill or other specialised equipment can strike fear into a person.
  • Provide your patients with noise-cancelling ear defenders or mask the sound with calming music to reduce auditory stimulus causing anxiety.
  • Injections - “Needle phobia, also known as a fear of needles, is a fear of medical procedures that involve needles or injections. It is very common, affecting at least one in 10 people.”
  • Providing the patient with visual or tactile stimulus to focus on, attention can be taken away from the needle allowing you to administer the injection more efficiently, providing the patient with a less traumatic experience.
  • Embarrassment - This is often due to poor dental status or perceived neglect.
  • Creating an environment that is welcoming and calming twinned with your understanding will make your patients feel less anxious and more likely to visit your practice.

Weighted Products

How can we help?

While we cannot cure the phobia, using sensory products can make the experience less traumatic

Various journals highlight the need to introduce non pharmacological procedures in the treatment of anxiety related to dental care. Research published in the European Journal of Oral Science has concluded that children who exhibited symptoms of extreme dental anxiety showed a significant reduction in anxious behaviour when they were treated in a sensory adapted environment.

Visual Products

“Snoezelen manipulates brain chemistry through the senses, to set the tone for motivation and functional attention... it lowers the stress chemistry and increases the relaxation chemistry. The key is finding the right combination.”

Linda Messbauer
M.A., OTR/L