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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 117-119

On the use of pets to manage dental anxiety

School of Dental Medicine, University of Connecticut, Farmington, Connecticut, USA

Correspondence Address:
Lora Manley
School of Dental Medicine, University of Connecticut, Farmington, Connecticut
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2155-8213.190518

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Dental anxiety and fear can be a significant barrier to dental care, with symptoms ranging from feelings of unease to avoidance of care. The management of anxious patients is essential to improve their oral health. Triggers include sights, sounds, sensations, and smells of the equipment used in restorative procedures, and management should focus on controlling these factors. Recommendations for controlling these triggers include distraction and pharmacological interventions. In medicine, distractions include animal-assisted therapy, which proves an effective means of reducing anxiety levels. Studies have shown that interactions with live animals reduce self-reported anxiety more than distractions by either humans or magazines. The media also addresses the valuable role of emotional support by animals in boosting health and enhancing lives. In the past year, numerous news stories have reported regarding the use of certified therapy by dogs to comfort anxious patients in dental practices across the United States. Dogs serve to distract patients, drawing their focus away from dentistry, and generate a positive energy that enliven both the staff and the patients. The positive impact that therapy dogs have had on patients' dental experiences cannot be overstated. The incorporation of pet anti-anxiety therapy is a safe, effective, and inexpensive approach to easing dental anxiety and has profound potential for improving oral health.

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