Dogs help nervous dental patients

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. - A Wisconsin dentist's office is using therapy dogs to help keep patients calm.

Dogs are fun, and people like them, so why not put them to work? Dr. Rena Christman's office is planning to try it out.

A dental office in Eau Claire has been using therapy dogs for about a year.

"We had a patient about six months ago that came into the office, and she was very anxious and nervous, and I knew she liked dogs, so we brought Piper into the operatory. The lady held her leash and petted her while we were working on her and she was able to calm down right away and get the dental procedure done," said Dr. Christopher Poss.

A date with the dentist is enough to make your teeth chatter.

"People don't like the dentist because there's a fear of pain and discomfort," said Kimberlee Kluth, assistant office manager.

So can dog in the room really help?

"It really has a calming effect on the patients," said Poss.

"Physiologically it also actually helps lower blood pressure, we can see cortisol levels go down in individuals when they're around animals," said Christman.

But in order to be put to work, the dog needs to be certified through an organization like Therapy Dogs International.

"They go through noise tests, they go through motion tests, they go through different, they're exposed to different people and different settings so that they know that they're very comfortable in those settings," said Christman.

Once the dog is certified they can be requested ahead of the dentist appointment by patients of all ages.


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