The ambient lighting, the gentle trickling of water from the tabletop Zen garden, the intermittent buzzing of a high-speed hand piece in the background. These sounds are becoming increasingly intermingled with the emergence of dental spas across the country. With dental anxiety as one of the leading drivers for patients avoiding essential dental care, the addition of a “spa-like” treatment could help patients feel more at home.
A dental spa is exactly what you think it would be – a dental facility under a licensed Oral Health Care provider that offers spa services in addition to providing dental care. Services offered can include, but are not limited to: facials, micro-dermabrasion, paraffin wax treatment, and even Botox (determined by each state’s respective dental board). All of these services may be offered with the convenience of one appointment. Depending on the type of service, they can be completed by a dental assistant, hygienist, or a spa specialist. Even simply offering flat-screen televisions, snacks and beverages can qualify a dental office in calling itself a “spa”. Despite the open-endedness of the term, the ADA has estimated that as many as one in every twenty dental offices in the United States offers some spa services to their patients (Glick, M. One-Stop Shopping J Am Dent Assoc. 2007).
The emphasis of spa dentistry is on the patient’s feeling and experiences at the dental office. Customer service aims to exceed expectations and providing patients with a more calming experience from the usual dental environment. This can ultimately be the differentiating factor between your practice and all others. The goal is not to try and be all things to everyone, but rather focus on a safe and pleasant experience so that patients are more likely to return. Regardless of the services provided, showing compassion to patients is inexpensive and never turns a patient in the wrong direction.
The field of dentistry is constantly changing. Your office is no longer your Dad’s dental office, and it shouldn’t be run the same way. With technologies, materials and techniques constantly changing, new dentists should be proud to offer a service that is welcoming, caring and embraces change, allowing them to offer a greater service to their patients. The average American consumer expects more and will choose more over less nearly every time. So as you think about your future practice, take a walk through from the patient’s perspective. As you enter the door imagine all the sights, smells, sounds and feelings, and tell me: do you feel at home?
Have you visited a dental office that offered spa-like treatments? What are some ways you plan on managing patient anxiety and enhancing their dental experience in your office? Share your thoughts and comments below!
~Jane Yang, Minnesota ’17, President-elect, Minnesota