Doggone it, it’s time to relax at the dentist
Think back to each dental appointment you’ve kept. Remember the anxiety, the nagging idea that something painful might be coming your way?
A local dentist feels your pain.
Dr. Angela Boehler Homoky is using her diminutive, 4-pound Chihuahua, Sancho, to help her patients feel less uncomfortable about their checkups and treatments. She says her dog has a calming influence on dentally distracted people.
“I used to bring the dog to the office and originally used Sancho to help a friend who was anxious about a procedure,” said the Port Charlotte dentist. Connor Gerofsky, 11, at the office for his first filing recently, was one of her patience helped by the dog’s presence. Owner
of two cats, Connor was taken aback at first to find Sancho would be sharing his appointment. Intrigued by the small dog wrapped in his blanket, Connor said the unique approach helped him relax and not notice any discomfort.
His mother, Christine, says Connor took the experience in stride and would probably characterize his time with Sancho as cool.
Homoky has been in local practice since 2001. A Springfield, Ill., native, she holds a degree from Southern Illinois School of Dental Medicine. A past president of the Charlotte Dental Society, her practice, Simply Smiles, specializes in the use of laser techniques and sedation to counter the effects of drilling and anesthesia.
Patient Diane Fritz, almost 70, still remembers childhood dentist visits when concern for patient comfort didn’t even enter into the picture.
“Just watching the dentist pick up a tool made me jump,” she said.
With Sancho present, her attention was drawn to holding him gently, and she almost ignored what was going on around her. Overall, having the dog present has made her visits wonderful, banishing those early memories, she said.
Animal assisted therapy has long been shown to improve a patient’s mental and emotional state. The Delta Society, an organization that promotes animals working with chronically ill patients, declares that pets can decrease feelings of loneliness, isolation and depression. Many hospitals also utilize animals to work with their seriously ill patients.
Plantation General Hospital near Fort Lauderdale, a pioneer in pet facilitated therapy, has found that animals can cause a welcome distraction to anxiety, with benefits such as lowered blood pressure that last even after the procedure, leaving pleasant memories of the experience.