Children with dental fear and anxiety try all means to avoid or delay dental treatment, and it results in the deterioration of their oral health. Distraction techniques are strategies that overload the patient's limited attention span, diverting their attention from unpleasant procedures and thus being a safe strategy.
Objective: To analyze the most recent literature on distraction techniques in children with fear and anxiety, such as music, audiovisual distraction, animal-assisted therapy and sensorially adapted dental environments, and their effectiveness.
Methodology: A comprehensive search was performed in PubMed using keywords such as dental anxiety, dental fear, distraction, and children.
Results: The music therapy technique in most cases proves to be effective in reducing anxiety and pain during clinical procedures in children; audiovisual distraction using virtual reality goggles has proved to be a useful distraction tool to reduce anxiety and fear during dental treatment; animal-assisted therapy has shown to be a promising technique in the management of dental fear and anxiety, but needs to be studied more rigorously to corroborate its efficacy; and the sensory adapted environment has very little information, however, very good results have been observed in its use for the management of dental fear and anxiety in children and its benefits in children with special abilities.
Conclusion: The available studies show that the distraction techniques mentioned can be effective during dental treatment for the management of dental fear and anxiety in children, including those with special abilities. However, the certainty of the evidence for them is very low, so more future studies and research comparing the different distraction techniques among children of different age groups are recommended.