Bridgework and a Backrub, No Waiting
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.’
Going one better, New York reconstructive dentist Dr. Paul Tanners offers patients not just an on-site massage therapist, but a consultation with a plastic surgeon who can perform some non-invasive treatments (for an extra fee)- such as Botox injections while the patient is in the dentist’s chair. ‘I find patients like the one-stop shopping,’ says Tanners.
Some dentists who offer such amenities may charge slightly more for a visit than no-frills dentists do, but many patients don’t mind. ‘People seem to feel that being comfortable at the dentist is worth paying more for,’ says Dr. Mathew Messina, consumer adviser for the American Dental Association.
Aside from making you more enthusiastic about your next dentist appointment, some dental professionals believe these extras may lead to better oral health, too. ‘We’ve known for a long time that if you take your mind off your mouth, you’ll have less pain and maybe even heal faster,’ says Dr. Richard Hansen, director of the Comprehensive Dental Canter in Fullerton, California. ‘Stress tightens blood vessels and lowers the mouth’s immune system. Helping patients relax can improve the healing process.’
It gives a whole new meaning to saying ‘aahh.’