Dental Spas Leave Patients Smiling
Fear of the dentist may be a thing of the past thanks to the budding trend of dental spas. In 1986, Lorin Berland, DDS opened the first Dallas Dental spa, offering massage, aromatherapy, and paraffin hand-wax treatments to his patients. Today, at Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, dental patients sit in 'Dental Zen Chairs' sending soothing sound waves from their neck to toes.
At Scarsdale Dental Spa in New York, patients are immediately relaxed when offered a beverage choice in an entry room with a calming waterfall and meditative music.
Dentists here see patients in doorless rooms with curved softly-colored walls, no cabinetry, and expansive windows. Lighting is dim and recessed. Patients can distract themselves by listening to music on headsets or watching DVD movies or DirecTV on overhead plasma TV screens.
If the patient still feels anxious at a dental spa, he can receive a chairside neck, foot, or hand massage. Or, a more complete massage in a relaxation room filled with lavender burning candles. "In the last few years," comments Kimberly Harms, DDS, of Riversedge Dental Practice, in Farmington, Minnesota, "licensed masseuses have been brought into the dental offices. Consequently, patients are more relaxed, more willing to visit the dentist," says Dr. Harms whose practice includes warm moist towels and virtual reality glasses. "The more comfortable the person is, the better they take care of their teeth, and the more they'll get their dental problems taken care of." The American Dental Association strongly recommends stress reduction techniques in dental offices, especially for patients with anxiety problems or known heart disease.
Although spa dentistry sounds expensive, practitioners claim they don't charge more than the average dentist without perks. A basic cleaning at a Chicago dental spa costs about $80, more ($125) in New York. For the nearest dental spa near you, contact your local Dental Society.