“I love the dog, he’s so cute. It warms me up”. “He is very calm, he does not run around and that calms me down”. In a report published on May 11 on the website of the American channel Wfmz, children testify to their joy at going to the dentist since Dr. Marissa Sandidge, a specialist in pediatric odontology in a practice in East Nashville, Tennessee in the United States, introduced Milo, a therapy dog, to his team to calm anxious little patients.
“I have always been impressed by hospitals, she tells NewsChannel5. They have a child life specialist whose job is to put the patient at ease, make them happy and provide them with a positive experience. Sometimes they bring in a therapy dog and I always thought that was great. »
“I had been thinking about how I wanted to design my practice and what vision I had for it for years, and part of that puzzle was coming up with some sort of menu of options to put the kids in the comfortable with the dentist (…) to make them confident adults of the dentist”, she continues. The menu in question includes toys, pillows for the knees, lollipops, and, therefore, the meeting with Milo.
“He makes me feel very happy”
Milo is the dog of the firm’s director, Micaela Thurman. She takes him for walks in a stroller and, when the request has been made in advance (to protect patients who may be allergic to dogs), puts him on the children’s laps during their care. For their greatest pleasure.
“Before Milo was here, I didn’t like going to the dentist. It made me nervous. Now he makes me feel very happy and calm because I love the little stuffed thing on my lap,” testifies in particular the little Penelope, 9 years old.
“I was amazed by the turn an appointment takes. The first dates can sometimes be very difficult for children, and then we recommend Milo for the next visit and they are perfectsays Dr. Sandidge. And everything is going so well. And it’s just amazing. It’s as if the simplest thing makes all the difference for our patient. »
“We are in East Nashville. Most people have dogs and love them, and if they don’t have a dog, this is where they come to visit a dog so parents don’t have to buy them one”she analyzes.
More and more similar cases in the United States
The therapy dog in the dental office is not a first. At the end of February, the very serious washington post had written an article on the subject. In the USA, “a growing number of dentists are using four-legged staff members to reduce stress for children and adults, usually at no additional cost to patients,” explains the newspaper. And describe the case of a dental office in Wisconsin where patients can “cuddling a cockapoo named Charlie”, while in Cornelius, North Carolina, « Whalen Dentistry announces that a standard poodle named Beamer “will make any date a little less…RUFF!” » ».
“Yet the proliferation of dental dogs highlights a surprising lack of regulation,” raise it washington post. In fact, in most states “There’s nothing stopping a dentist from bringing in an untrained animal and calling it a comfort or therapy dog, which can put patients at risk of infection or attack from the dog.” Patients who are allergic or afraid of dogs may also have concerns.” Hence the importance of the precautions taken by the Nashville cabinet.