DENTAL DOG: Therapeutic pooch eases anxious patients - KMSP-TV

DENTAL DOG: Therapeutic pooch eases anxious patients

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Therapy dogs often help people with anxiety or depression in hospitals and nursing homes, but a dental office in Woodbury is hoping their furry friend will do the same for patients who face root canals.

So far, more adults have requested the services of Molly, the 5-year-old Cocker Spaniel. Fear of the dentist's chair can be a life-long problem, but for some patients, the presence of a pup helps them overcome it.

Lyndon Yackley has been a longtime patient of Applewood Family Dental in Woodbury.

"Oh, it's been about 15, 20 years right in there," he estimated.

Even so, Yackley admits he still gets a little nervous around the dental drill.

"For anybody that's uncomfortable sitting in a dentist's chair, it's nice to have something to comfort you," he said.

That something is Molly, the therapy dog brought in five months ago to help calm the nerves of patients.

"She's like a teddy bear," Yackley said.

Molly is able to help those who get rattled by the sights and sounds of a dental office.

"It's proven that people's blood pressures go down," Dental Assistant Mary Reck, who is also Molly's proud owner, told Fox 9 News.

In fact, some patients even pass on painkillers, opting for Molly's soft touch for relief.

"Some people don't like medicine. They don't want those options. So, it's something different," Dr. Angie Hastings explained.

Reck came up with the unconventional way to help her patients, and although she admits it's still a work in progress, she believes the long-term benefits will be worth it.

"She has to go outside to go to the bathroom," Reck quipped. "I don't have to take any of the other employees outside."

Not only is Molly helping patients, but her presence is also changing the culture of the dental practice.

"It's just a totally relaxed, totally different atmosphere," Reck said.

Molly the Dental Dog even has her very own Facebook page with fans from as far away as the United Kingdom.

For now, Molly only comes into the office if a patient requests her for an appointment since some patients are allergic to dogs. Molly also works with area women's shelters and libraries.

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