FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Psychology professor at the University of Arkansas Laurne Quetsch received a $450,000 award from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research to promote positive child experiences.

According to a news release from the university, Questsch’s project will help address the anxiety children have when going to the dentist. The project aims to train general and pediatric dental providers in Arkansas on evidence-based, child behavioral-management skills to reduce anxiety in young patients.

The release says the grant is part of a seven-year, $2.9 million award from the NIDCR to offer dental providers in West Virginia, North Carolina and Florida along with Arkansas.

“Research shows that our dental habits are established early in life,” said Quetsch, who specializes in children with disruptive behavior and autism spectrum disorder. “By making the experience of going to the dentist a positive one while children are small, we may be able to promote life-long healthy behaviors. This may also reduce emergency dental visits and avoid more severe forms of child behavior management such as restraint or sedation in the dental operatory.” 

According to the release, the award will provide support for planning and implementing a pilot trial of several dental offices within Northwest Arkansas in the first two years. The remaining five years will focus on expanding the training throughout the state for any dental providers serving children ages 2-10.

In addition to the grant, the university will receive an additional $184,000 in indirect costs to support extra, related expenses.