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A Dentist’s Furry Friend Reduces Patients’ Dental Anxiety

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We all know that a dog is man's best friend, but this Wisconsin dentist brings her 'best friend' to work with her to help calm patients. Bailey, a 65-pound goldendoodle, acts as Dr. Tammy Boudry’s ‘assistant’ while he sits with uptight children (or adults) who are having dental work done.

“It’s usually a mom who requests Bailey as a way to help her child relax,” Boudry said in an interview with the Fond du Lac Reporter. “It’s a win-win because Bailey loves the attention and the patient becomes more relaxed.”

Bailey is a certified therapy dog trained to provide comfort and affection and will eventually train to be a service dog to help people with disabilities. Dr. Boudry, who opened her practice in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin in 2014, will bring Bailey into the office on days when a patient has requested him ahead of time. Seven-year-old Bailey, who does not shed and is hypoallergenic, can either sit in the dental chair with the patient or recline on a table next to the patient.

“He is very outgoing and friendly,” Boudry said about Bailey. “He is even more than I hoped for and is the type of dog you just immediately fall in love with.” Katie Schmude of Fond du Lac, WI told the FDL Reporter that her two children enjoy having Bailey next to them during dental work. “My youngest son used to sit on my lap while getting dental work," she said. "Now, he’s fine in the dentist chair.”

Dr. Boudry may be the first Wisconsin dentist to use a therapy dog and had to get special approval and licensing from the Wisconsin Dental Association. “They had to write an insurance policy just for me," she said. "There are lots of extra precautions and rules I follow to maintain a clean and safe environment.”

According to the article in the FDL Reporter, Dr. Boudry got the idea to add a therapy dog to her practice after reading an article about therapy dogs used in medical clinics nationwide. She now mentors other Wisconsin dentists who are considering a therapy dog for their practice.

Looking for other ways to help ease patients’ anxiety? Read how Dental Product Shopper’s Adam Rutkowsi became a believer in the NuCalm system.

Photo: Courtesy of Boudry Dental and the Fond du Lac Reporter

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