Eye-tracking in dentistry: what do children notice in the dental operatory?

Gregory R. Celine, Vanessa V.Y. Cho, Alexandr Kogan, Robert P. Anthonappa, Nigel M. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Web of Science)


Objectives: To determine, using eye-tracking technology, (i) what children notice the most when they look at images of dental operatories and (ii) the effect of distractors on gaze pattern. Materials and methods: Forty-one children aged 4–12 years (21 girls, 19 boys) viewed 13 images of dental operatories taken from different perspectives on a computer screen. One child was excluded due to calibration issues with the eye-tracking equipment. Areas of interest (AOI’s) were pre-defined on each image, then a Tobii X2-60 eye-tracking camera was used to track the location of participant’s gaze. Count of participants to fixate and mean length of fixation (LOF) for each AOI were measured. Results: Significant differences in the mean LOF was noticed for bracket tables, handpieces, and the dental chair. Significantly differences in mean LOF between different areas of the images were noted where distractors (cartoons) were added. Conclusions: When viewing images of dental operatories on a computer screen, children fixated most on the bracket tables, handpieces, and dental chairs. The addition of distractors was able to change where they looked. Eye-tracking was able to effectively assess where the children looked. Clinical relevance: The findings demonstrate that children have inherent preferences for where they fixate when viewing images of a dental operatory. This has not previously been known and will allow customization of dental operatories where children will be treated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3663-3668
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Oral Investigations
Issue number6
Early online date16 Nov 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


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