Creating a More Pleasant Dental Atmosphere
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.
Dentists nationwide are taking some of the sting out of trips to their offices, by incorporating one of the lessons embodied by the spa industry: Pampering calms and senses.
At the New York City office of Paul Tanners, D.D.S., for example, patients can receive hand and foot massages before, during and after dental procedures. Patients can also watch movies, listen to music on headphones, and wear eyeshades to reduce stress.
‘The relaxation methods we offer help to physically separate the patient’s mind from their teeth,’ says Tanners.
The spa perks being offered in U.S. dentists’ offices include massage of the neck, shoulders, face, hands and feet; paraffin hand-waxing treatments; reflexology; herbal eye compresses; relaxing music; warm foot booties and neck pillows; manicures and pedicures; scented candles; and aromatherapy. Some dentists are even having spa facilities and amenities, such as massage rooms, cappuccino and mineral water bars, arboretums and waterfalls, installed in their offices.
A workshop on creating a more pleasant dental-office atmosphere was offered at a meeting of the Chicago Dental Society in February. The instructor of that workshop, Mary Govoni, a dental hygienist and the owner of an ergonomic-consulting company, says that spa treatments are an effective way of making dental care a more pleasant experience.
‘Dentistry still has that connotation of pain and apprehension,’ she says. ‘Offering (spa) treatments helps take away some of the fear and apprehension and create a better all-around experience for the patient.’