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Amid Growing Popularity of Dental Therapy Dogs, NC Implements Regulations
It is estimated that between 50% and 80% of Americans experience some level of dental anxiety, keeping 20% from seeking professional oral healthcare services at all.1 In an effort to alleviate some of the negative emotions surrounding a visit to the dental chair, many practices have introduced dental therapy dogs. These canine companions may model good patient behavior, lay on a patient while he or she receives dental care, or simply ease anxious patients into the practice by offering the opportunity to pet man’s best friend. While the addition of dogs to the dental practice seems to be a growing trend, regulations regarding these new dental team members are all over the place. According to Kaiser Health News, only three states—Georgia, New Jersey, and Virginia—prohibit dogs (except for certified service animals) from appearing in dental offices. However, in the absence of regulations and with the hopes of ensuring patient, clinician, and dog safety, North Carolina recently implemented a rule requiring that dental therapy dogs be “rehabilitative facility dogs.” These animals receive specialized training on helping a variety of people in addition to required training for their caregivers. In NC, such training must be provided by an accredited program through such organizations as Assistance Dogs International and Animal Assisted Intervention International. Click here to read more.
- White AM, Giblin L, Boyd LD. The prevalence of dental anxiety in dental practice settings. J Dent Hyg. 2017;91:30–34.