In January, the dental practice decided to hire a happiness officer… His name is Atkins, he’s a sand-coloured Labrador Retriever.
A dog to help reduce patient stress
Dogs can be used to help overcome a phobia of the dentist, and actually more and more dentists are using dogs to reduce stress in children and adults, usually at no extra cost to the patient.
A study published in the journal Animals found that patients afraid of the dentist who had a dog lying on their lap during treatment had reduced stress levels and blood pressure.
Atkins is a facility dog that has received the same intense training as service dogs, but has been taught to help several people, rather than just one.
The dog has been trained to work in specific professional environments and is very popular with the dental practice's patients, both young and old!
They ask their patients if they are ok with Atkins being present
On the days that Atkins works at the practice, a sign at reception warns patients that a dog is on duty. If a patient has allergies or is afraid of dogs, staff put Atkins in his basket in a back room.
The nursing team always asks their patients if they would like Atkins to lay his head on their lap before their operation. When patients agree, the dentist uses a disposable sheet to create a protective barrier between the patient's clothes and the dog.
We would love to have Atkins by our side every time we go to the dentist!