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Using Dog Therapy to Quell Anxiety

With animal-assisted interventions proving to reduce distress for anxious patients, dental professionals must follow the proper guidelines to successfully introduce them into a dental practice.

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Dog-assisted therapy (DAT) is an effective practice primarily in aging populations, pediatric care, and pain reduction.

Therapy dog apixel / E+
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If a patient perceives a threat in the dental operatory, which causes an emotional and/or physical response, it is unlikely he or she has dental anxiety.

girl sitting in dentist chair IL21 / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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In the United States, researchers estimate up to what percentage of people experience some form of dental anxiety?

scared girl covering mouth in dentist chair PeopleImages / E+
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Reductions in pain related to decreased catecholamines and increased endorphins in patients with animal-assisted interventions have been demonstrated in health-­care settings.

patient with puppy at doctor LM Photo / DigitalVision
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Dental professionals thinking about implementing animal-assisted interventions need not consider patients’ fear of dogs.

girl afraid of puppy Sutin Lodthong / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Animal-assisted interventions should be restricted to suitable animal species, such as dogs.

sick puppy wearing stethoscope gilaxia / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Keeping the office disinfected and equipment sterile can also be a concern for a dental practice.

disinfection machine Alexey Shatrov / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Using Dog Therapy to Quell Anxiety
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