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How about a foot massage with that root canal?

Apparently, dentists are now offering feel-good perks to compliment their regular services. One dentist turned her Chicago-based practice into a “dental spa,” complete with free 10 minute massages, cooling eye masks, and peppermint foot scrubs. Cushy lounge chairs, scented candles, herbal tea, soothing music and flat screen TVs adorn the office. Dr. Mitchell says that this is her way of making a trip to the dentist “a really positive experience.”

The American Dental Association estimates that up to 25% of Americans avoid dentists because of fear of pain.

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about spa dentistry. Although I love massages, I’m sure if I were having one at the dentist, the impending doom of drilling and novocaine would diminish my enjoyment. It’s kind of like taking your boyfriend to dinner to break up with him – how much will you really enjoy the meal?

Beyond that, I wonder if the anxiety surrounding dental visits (provided in a spa-like setting) would cause some kind of anxiety transfer to spas in general? I can imagine that if people subconsciously associate foot massages or scented candles with tooth drilling, the next time they get a spa certificate as a gift they may pass it on at a white elephant party.

What do you think? Would you like to see more dental spas crop up across the nation?

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

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5 Responses to “How about a foot massage with that root canal?”

  1. ChickP says:

    I wouldn’t want to pay more for dental services than necessary, though in theory, I like the idea.

  2. meg3847 says:

    I like the idea of making the patient more comfortable in the dentist chair, but I’m not convinced it plays out well in practice. My denist’s office is not exactly on spa level, but they try to provide more amenities. For example, they provide a hot neck wrap. Feeling already a little anxious, this just made me feel overheated and strangled. They also provide ipods to listen to while getting fillings. This was also sort of nice, except the dentist kept trying to communicate to me and I couldn’t hear him or see the buttons to turn the volume down… I personally think they ought just foget about foot massages and the like and just stick to nitrous.

  3. ValJonesMD says:

    Yes, Meg, I agree with you! Or maybe they can give us a nice certificate to go to a spa after we’ve had our work done!

  4. Frank Varon DDS says:

    As a dentist, my personal feelings are that this is a gimmick to attract new patients and to have the ability to boost profitability by offering other ancillary services. How about a foot massage while having that wart on your hand torched? Most of my colleagues feel that it is a phase. Patients see dentists to have dental work done not to have their feet massaged.

  5. ValJonesMD says:

    Although the idea of “making dentistry a positive experience” is well intentioned, I had to laugh at your analogy, Frank, of having your hand sutured or burned while getting a foot massage. This really brings to light the reason why we have mixed feelings about this approach… 🙂

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