Reviewed by Dr. Benjamin Foley, DDS

Many patients experience anxiety and fear when they come to the dentist. However, there is a unique way to reduce these feelings that will help you feel calm and relaxed.

Animal-assisted therapy is a gentle approach that involves using dogs to help nervous patients during dental procedures.

We are excited to share how our furry friend, Dr. Gus, can change your dental visit experience.

Table of Contents

What Is the Difference Between Dental Fear and Dental Anxiety?

Studies estimate that dental anxiety, or dental fear, affects approximately 36% of the population, with a further 12% suffering from extreme fear or dental phobias. Dental fear refers to the feeling of tension or apprehension before a dental visit. Dental anxiety is an intense and persistent fear that can lead to avoidance of oral health care.

What Is Animal-Assisted Therapy?

Animal-assisted therapy uses animals that receive extensive training to provide comfort and support and even promote physical health for humans.

Why Are Dogs Used for Animal-Assisted Therapy?

Dogs are ideal for this role because of their empathetic nature and unconditional love. They have an amazing ability to sense anxiety levels and offer solace that sometimes words cannot achieve.

Can Therapy Dogs Help With Dental Anxiety?

A recent study at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center found that using therapy dogs in a dental setting for military dental treatment programs can calm patients.

The study showed that anxious patients who spent time with a facility dog experienced these benefits:

  • Had lower levels of dental anxiety
  • Reported higher satisfaction rates
  • Lowered blood pressure rates
  • Were more likely to follow through with their dental care
  • Required less pain medication
  • Were more likely to attend their next dental appointment

The Benefits of Therapy Dogs for Dental Patients

Therapy pets help with patient anxiety in several ways:

  • The presence of a therapy pet can make a dental visit less stressful and more enjoyable for the patient by providing a pleasant distraction from the procedure.
  • The simple act of petting a dog can have a calming effect on patients. It has been shown to increase feel-good hormones like oxytocin and reduce the stress hormone cortisol.
  • Therapy animals are trained to provide comfort and support during stressful situations. They can sense when a person is anxious or distressed and offer emotional support through their presence, touch, and connection.
  • For some patients, the calming effect of pet therapy might reduce the need for sedation during dental treatment.
  • Positive experiences can help build trust and reduce the fear of future dental appointments.

Creating a Pawsitive Dental Visit

We understand that overcoming dental anxiety and fear is a significant hurdle for many. Dog-assisted therapy aligns with our goal to provide a compassionate, patient-centered approach to dental care. Here’s a simple guide on what to expect during your visit:

  1. A warm welcome: Our therapy dog will greet you upon arrival, offering immediate emotional support.
  2. Constant companion: Feel the calming presence of a furry friend leading up to your appointment.
  3. A stress-free goodbye: Leave our clinic smiling, not just from our professional dental care but also from a heartwarming farewell from our therapy dog, Gus.

Meet Our “Dogtor” Gus Foley

Dr. Gus is a Labrador Retriever known for his ability to calm anxious patients. If you experience dental anxiety or fear, we suggest checking if the “dogtor” is present on the day of your appointment. He is here to provide his unconditional love and support during your treatment.

Although Gus does not have dental training, he is exceptionally good at making everyone feel at ease. His calming presence and good looks more than makeup for this. He won’t be examining your teeth or giving dental advice, but his presence can make a big difference in dealing with dental anxiety. He offers comfort without words and can turn a routine visit into a truly pawsitive experience.

Foley & Le: Your Oral Surgeons in Boulder, CO

Don’t let dental anxiety and fear stop you from receiving the dental care you need. The therapeutic effects of dog-assisted therapy can help you have a more comfortable and stress-free dental visit.

At Foley & Le Oral Surgeons, we aim to offer high-quality oral surgery services in a tranquil and empathetic atmosphere. In addition to the soothing presence of Dr. Gus in our dental clinic, we provide various sedation options personalized to your specific needs. Whether you’re dealing with dental anxiety or simply seeking a more pleasant dental experience, our team is dedicated to making your visit as stress-free and positive as possible.

If you suffer from dental anxiety and are searching for a ‘dentist with therapy dog near me’ or a ‘sedation dentist near me,’ we are here to support you. Call (303) 444-2255 or complete our online booking form to schedule your appointment. Visit us at 1420 28th Street, Suite 100, Boulder, CO.

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