New strategies for braving dental procedures
By MEAGAN FRANCISmichiganblue01

In a survey unveiled at the 2003 American Dental Association convention, more than a quarter of adults confessed that they hadn’t visited a dentist in the years due to fear of pain. But what if visiting a dentist could be a relaxing, even enjoyable, experience? Enter the dental spa, a facility that offers traditional dental services, from root canals to extractions – but with a pampering twist.
The Valley Dental Spa in Okemos combines relaxation with oral hygiene and even orthodontics. Until two years ago, Dr. Martin Valley, maintained a traditional family dental practice in Okemos. But Valley’s wife, Dawn, who is Valley Dental Spa’s office manager, said, “It really bothered my husband when people would come in to this office and be afraid of him. People were dreading coming in and spending time in his chair. We knew there had to be a better way.” The entire staff took a trip to a eon. femme in San Francisco to investigate the idea, deciding to create a dental office where patient. could enjoy — rather than avoid — checkups, cleanings and even fillings and extractions.

The practice moved to a new office and recreated the experience from the inside out. “it different from the minute you


walk in,” said Valley. “You don’t see People magazines or big pictures of teeth on the wall.” Instead, clients see a fireplace, comfy couches, a bowl of fresh fruit, a massage chair and coffee table books. “We want people to feel like they’re coming into our living room. not a cold, sterile place.”
The office’s full-time massage therapist acts as a concierge, offering paraffin hand dips and hand, neck and shoulder massages in the waiting room – – all complimentary. Clients Can also add an hour-long, full body massage to their dental visit.
The spa offers all the dental treatments one expects from a tradional dentist’s office, intiuding cleanings, composite (tooth-colored) fillings, crowns, bridges, veneers, tooth whitening, dentures, root canals, braces and Invinlign (invisible plastic braces).

But unlike most dentists’ offices, clients also enjoy perks like warm booties, aromatherapy and music during their treatments. And at the end of the service, clients arc offered such niceties as a warmed, moistened scented towel to clean up with, lip balm and a Listerine pocket strip, in case they didn’t like the Flavor of the treatment.
Other considerations include a cathedral ceiling in the treatment room, along with an expasnsive outdoor view, which eases tension in claustrophobic patients.
“For us, its about providing the ultimate in customer service, and the response has been great.” said Valley. who noted that the practice has grown 47 percent in two years. “People are to blown away they can’t stop talking about it.”
To Valley, another benefit is reduction of the amount of medication clients feel they need to get through a treatment. “People want to have their teeth fixed, but they’re so scared that they’re willing to go to an extreme level of sedation,” she said. “We want to help people relax naturally. Aromatherapy has been clinically proven to relax people, and massage can reduce your heart rate and produce endorphin. I tell people, believe it or not, you can enjoy going to the dentist.”