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'Spa Dentistry' Puts The Patient at Ease

Reporter: Dr. Linda Niessen / Baylor College of Dentistry
Online Producer: Phil Oakley

IRVING — Do you hate the smell of a dental office? Some dentists are changing the clinical environment of their offices into something very different. The latest trend is called "spa dentistry".

At this dental office, patients are served soothing milkshakes at the end of an appointment. They watch television or movies, and a massage mat in each chair relieves stress.

"It puts you at ease," said patient Teena Murphy. "You don't know you're having dental work done. I had a horrible experience 15 years ago in a different dental office. And I said I'm not going to do that again. I want to be pampered. I want to have it where you can relax. When you leave, you feel like you haven't been run over by a truck."

From the moment you walk in the front door, you can tell you are not in an ordinary dental office. It especially doesn't smell like one.

"We've created a lot of comfortable distractions so you're not so focused on the traditional, negative aspects of dentistry," explained Dr. Jeff Roy.

Called 21st Century Dental, their web page describes the spa dentistry concept.

"I know one of the biggest problems in dentistry is fear. And we want to have an office and practice where the patient isn't even aware this is a dental office," Dr. Kent Smith said.

The concept begins with office design. Then, the philosophy is simple: pamper the patient.

"If it creates goodwill and makes a patient want to come to the dentist," Dr. Smith added, "that's good dentistry in my opinion."

"We also bake Otis Spunkmeyer cookies. They come out hot and fresh every couple of hours. We've taken trips to the Ritz-Carlton, the Four Seasons to know how they treat their customers," he concluded.

Most dentists really do try to eliminate all pain, not inflict it. Spa dentistry takes the concept even further by combining customer service and compassionate care.

Dr. Linda Niessen is affiliated with the Baylor College of Dentistry, a part of the Texas A&M University System.

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