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Charles Sturt University dentistry lecturer wins award for virtual reality study

24 March 2020
The Central Western Daily

A lecturer from Charles Sturt University in Orange has received a prestigious award for his role in a study using virtual reality exposure therapy in the treatment of dental phobia.

ADA NSW member Dr Kumar Raghav was the lead author of the six-year research project and received the 2020 Giddon Award from the International Association of Dental Research for Distinguished Research in the Behavioral Sciences.

Dr Raghav is a lecturer in Clinical Dentistry at the School of Dentistry and Health Sciences at the Orange campus and completed the research project as part of his PhD with ACTA School of Dentistry in Amsterdam.

He co-wrote the research paper, with Professor Ad De Jongh and Associate Professor Arjen van Wijk from the University of Amsterdam, and Dr Ratika Kumar from the University of Newcastle.

"The award is a great honour because it is only given to one outstanding research team every year," Dr Raghav said

"We are very grateful that the six years of hard work our research team put into our study has been recognised at a global level by the International Association of Dental Research."

"We conducted pioneering studies on adult dental patients with dental phobia to test the effectiveness of virtual reality exposure therapy.

"Dental phobia and high dental fear together form a significant barrier that prevents individuals from seeking regular dental care and adversely affects their quality of life."

Dr Raghav said generally patients with dental phobia undergo expensive dental treatment under general anaesthesia or conscious sedation, which does not help them to learn to overcome their dental fears.

"Patients with high levels of dental fear are also a great source of professional stress among dentists as they are difficult to treat and require more chair-side time for management," he said.

Dr Raghav said during the study, participants were exposed to range of common dental procedures such as dental drills and dental syringe in a controlled virtual environment using head mounted virtual reality goggles.

"We tested the effectiveness of VRET using a range of studies, as well as a randomised controlled trial in Malaysia," he said.

"Through our research, we found VRET to be an effective treatment for dental phobia.

"This was particularly evident in our randomised controlled trial. At six months follow-up, we found 85 per cent of the patients who underwent VRET were treated of their dental phobia and 77 per cent of them came to the dentist and sought regular dental care."

School of Dentistry and Health Science interim head Professor Francesco E Marino said Dr Raghav's research is right at the forefront.
"To have one of our academics internationally recognised by an association which has more than 10,000 industry members is an outstanding achievement," he said.

Read The Central Western Daily Article Here 

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