With about one quarter of adults in the U.S. avoiding a trip to the dentist because of their fear, dentists are trying additional methods to ease their patients' qualms about dental procedures by offering entertainment and spa-type refreshments in the office.
Despite numbing gels, better anesthetics and sedatives that are making dental procedures much more comfortable than years before, many dentists now offer soft music or the chance to watch television as a way for patients to get their minds as well as their nerves off of the dentist's chair.
One dentist said he thought of incorporating spa services at his dentistry because even he was afraid as a child, and sometimes as an adult, to go through dental procedures.
"One of the reasons I am a dentist is that my parents went to a dentist I couldn't stand. My brother would run away [from the office] every time we went," said Dr. Timothy Kaufmann.
The Sheboygan Smile Center in Wisconsin includes aromatherapy and music in each room and the sounds can be customized by the patient.
While the spa trend in dentist offices is growing, the costs can vary as to what is included and what is extra. The American Dental Association (ADA) reported that in 2003, more than half of the 427 dentists surveyed at its annual meeting offered some sort of spa service.
The ADA pointed out however that the underlying care of the patient is far more important than any sides and Dr. Kaufmann agreed.
"A strong dentist/patient relationship is the best way, rather than spa dentistry or anything else [to overcome fear]. It doesn't matter what that spa treatment is if you don't have that trust," he said.
© 2008 Brafton Inc.
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