U of C prototype aims to ease fear at dentist’s office



krista sylvester/metro calgary


U of C industrial design student Georgia Houston shows off her handheld remote control prototype that allows children to control their environment in the dentist’s chair.

Hoping to erase those bad memories of dentist visits before they even start, one local woman has a vision for what trips to the dentist as a kid should have really been like.

Georgia Houston, a graduate student in industrial design at the University of Calgary’s faculty of environmental design did her master’s degree project on kid-friendly dentistry by design.

“Dentists do their best to reduce young patients’ anxiety while they are in the chair, but they may not be aware of how design elements in the office may also help to achieve this goal,” Houston said.

“Aesthetics, relaxation, distraction and empowerment are four areas where design can help to reduce anxiety. Design won’t eliminate procedures that are uncomfortable, but it can shape young patients’ perception of an experience — which is paramount.”

Houston demonstrated her thesis and prototype for a handheld remote control, which empowers children by offering choice, yesterday at Dr. Kari Stein’s Dentistry for Children.

With the remote, children can change television channels and alert the dentist to pain they are feeling.

Dr. Stein told Metro the visit to the dentist at her office is all about the children’s comfort levels.

“It’s everything — from the moment the kids walk in until they sit in the chair, it’s all about the kids.

“It’s about the design and about the distractions,” she said.