If you thought laughing gas was the only fun part about visiting the dentist, you haven’t been to Dr. Paul Tanners’ Midtown office.
All that drilling is easier to take when you’re getting a complimentary foot rub, which is offered to all his patients.
‘It’s a really good massage,’ says Stephen Sumnar, a 61-year-old college lecturer who travels two hours by train to see Tanners.
‘There have been times when I’ve come close to falling asleep. No matter what Dr. Tanners is doing in my mouth, I concentrate on my feet.’
While channel surfing last week, I stopped at CNN and read the scroll: New York Dentist Offers Massages, Wrinkle reduction. The floor was hard, I learned, after I fell out of my chair.
Maybe it’s because I’m from Chicago, but doesn’t the dental spa concept consist of offering patients a beverage and cable TV? (One West Coast practice offers warm cookies, but the concept never caught on in our calorie- and caries-concerned community.)
Mention going to the dentist, and many people immediately feel fear, anxiety even panic. According to the latest study conducted by the Journal of the American Dental Association, 45 million Americans are extremely nervous or terrified about visiting the dentist, and 23 million people avoid doing so because of fear — fear of pain, of not being in control of the situation, or of the overall dental-care experience, which often includes needles and drills.
The guest arrives for her 10:30 a.m. treatment. She is greeted by a smiling attendant and led to a small room. A scented candle glows in the corner; art lines the walls. The guest snuggles into an enormous leather chair, wrapped in a plush purple blanket and selects some Coltrane and Debussy from the music menu. As she slips the Bose headphones on, Shelley Fox starts to massage her feet.
Let the root canal begin. As the field of dentistry gets more competitive, an array of innovations are emerging to make people feel more comfortable in the chair. Several dental practices around the country now offer calming distractions from movies and music to massage and wine to ease what many people view as a stressful experience.
By Johanna Piazza
Special to New York Resident
A few months ago, a new patient wandered into Dr. Paul Tanners’ Madison Square Avenue office. Her current dentist did great work, she told him, and her teeth looked beautiful, but there was something missing ‘ a bedside manner. Her dentist was just too ‘procedure oriented,’ she said. She dreaded visits to his office and put off invasive procedures to avoid the displeasure. Tanners couldn’t help but smile: The woman was his target market, and he was ready to serve her.
Masseuses, aestheticians, even plastic surgeons are helping patients fight their fear of drills, needles, etc. Here’s what some practices around the country offer. (Note: Most of these treatments are performed before or after your dental procedure.)
Climb in the Chair For: Facial Microdermabrasion (performed by an aesthetician)
Where: Dr. Berland’s Dental Spa for Adult Dentistry, Dallas
Cost: First treatment, free; follow-ups, $110 each or $500 for a package of five.
Dentist Says: “The focus of my practice is cosmetic dentistry,” says Lorin Berland, D.D.S. “So microdermabrasion, which improves the skin, is a natural fit.”
We Say: Although microdermabrasion can be done by an aesthetician, we prefer a dermatologist’s expertise. Use your best judgment.
Imagine going to the dentist and getting an aromatherapy foot massage and paraffin hand treatment while reclining in a chair with temperature and massage settings that you alone control. Sybaritic tooth spa services are becoming more common as dentists realize how these make patients feel blessed rather than stressed during and after daunting dental procedures. While Paul Tanners’ Manhattan dentist office features massage therapy services, Debra Gray King at the Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry offers paraffin hand treatments, massage boots, and eye soothing wraps to patients.
ACROSS THE COUNTRY, DENTISTS ARE trying to remove the dread associated with their practice by offering patients an unexpected perk: ‘spa’ treatments. Imagine a relaxing foot massage to accompany a root canal, or herbal eye masks and paraffin-wax hand treatments to enhance a cleaning. ‘It’s a combination of high touch,’ explains Dan King, chief operating officer at the Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, where patients-greeted in the waiting room with the aroma of freshly baked cookies (if not actual cookies) receive pillows and virtual-reality glasses and are treated in pastel rooms scented with aromatherapy candles. ‘It turns a dental office from a torture chamber into a pleasant, pampering experience,’ he adds. ‘Our patients love the luxuries, and they refer their friends.’
By Rebecca Cooper
Only in America. Only in the land of 100 different alpha hydroxy wrinkle-smoothing creams and laser removal of under-eye circles could a person go in for routine oral hygiene and come out with rejuvenated lips full of collagen.
This latest development in appearance enhancement is an innovative pairing of prothodontics and trendy, age-defying procedures. The cosmetic combination was dreamed up by Dr. Paul Tanners, DDS, a Southampton resident with a Manhattan dental practice that recently began offering a range of cosmetic facial touch-ups in addition to prosthodontic dental services.
Instead of whining like many doctors about how their business managers screwed up, dentist Paul Tanners takes matters into his own hands. He drew up a business plan worthy of an IPO, and his Madison Avenue practice is skyrocketing.
His secret? When you go in for dental work, you also can sit for Botox, collagen, a nip and tuck, relaxation therapy, aromatherapy, and hand and foot massage.