Wisconsin dentist turns to therapy dogs for nervous patients

It's no secret that a lot of people don't enjoy a visit to the dentist chair. Between shots and drilling, it can leave some people feeling very nervous. Now, a dentist office in Wisconsin is using therapy dogs to help patients.Dr. Rena Christman says it's relatively new. Her thought process is this: people like dogs, so why not put them to work?Now, Dr. Christman's is planning on trying it out, but she's not the first.Dr. Christopher Poss has been doing it for about a year, and it all started with a single patient."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," Dr. Poss said. "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." 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," Kimberlee Kluth, the office manager, said.So can a dog in the room really help? Dr. Poss said it has a calming affect on the patients. Dr. Christman agrees, saying it lowers stress."Physiologically it also actually helps lower blood pressure, we can see cortisol levels go down in individuals when they're around animals," Dr. Christman said.Before a dog can be put to work, it 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," Dr. Christman said.Once certified, they can be requested ahead of the dentist appointment by patients of all ages.
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