Innovative pet therapy eases patient fears – and transforms the typical dental exam experience
By Tracy Taddey, DDS
Let’s be honest: few people look forward to routine doctor’s appointments – and unfortunately, the prospect of a dental examination inspires more fear than most. Whether incurred after a bad childhood experience, an uncomfortable procedure or a simple distaste for the sound of a dentist’s drill, exam chair phobia can be a real deterrent for many patients. Such fears may seem trivial; however, they can also keep individuals from taking proper care of their teeth for years on end – a habit that can lead to serious health problems including tooth decay, gum disease and even heart disease. In an attempt to coax reluctant patients into the exam chair, some offices now offer a variety of distractions including ceiling television sets, headphones and even sedation. But at our La Jolla dentist office, we are also pioneering the field of dental pet therapy– a method that significantly eases patient anxiety and affords unprecedented calm during both routine exams and corrective procedures alike.
Introducing Mona Lisa – La Jolla’s first dental therapy dog
Our practice is based on core principles of preventative care, patient education and state-of-the-art technology – but beyond that, we also strive to make our San Diego dental patients feel at home. A commitment to friendly, compassionate care has made our office a beloved local institution since 1974: and now, with the addition of our therapy dog Mona Lisa, we are also on the cutting edge of therapeutic dentistry in the form of a drug-free (and as far as we’re concerned, downright adorable) antidote to patient stress. Mona Lisa is a rescue dog from the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe; and as soon as she took up residence at our La Jolla office, we noticed her unique ability to put even our most anxious patients at ease. Seemingly immune to the notorious sound of the dentist’s drill, Mona simply curls up on patient’s laps during procedures and falls asleep – lending a peaceful, relaxing air to the treatment process and inspiring calm in those who otherwise fear and avoid dental examinations.
Treatment and care procedures, technological tools and preventative measures are constantly changing in the dental field; and the way we see it, the addition of Mona to our practice is a prime example of these exciting changes – and a rare opportunity to bring a touch of warmth to each patient’s experience. Pet therapy with Mona is an option available to all our patients; and after discussing treatment plans with members of our staff, patients can request to have Mona join them during their procedures. Whether you simply love dogs or experience severe anxiety while undergoing dental examinations and treatment, we hope you’ll visit our La Jolla office and give dental pet therapy a try. To learn more or schedule an appointment, visit us online: www.lajolladentist.com.
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