Say ah to spa!

Welcome to a new column designed to share information on a growing trend - spa dentistry.

Aug 1st, 2005

Welcome to a new column designed to share information on a growing trend - spa dentistry. What is a dental spa? How are we integrating dentistry, dental hygiene, and day spas? Is it appropriate for the profession to be doing this?

This will be an interactive column that welcomes questions and comments. I want to hear what you are doing in today’s dental spas. I will answer questions and provide you with resources regarding spa dentistry and dental hygiene.

There is much confusion among dental professionals and consumers regarding spa dentistry. Some dental offices profess to be experts. Why? Were they the first ones on the block to come up with comfort items for their patients, and then decide to call it spa dentistry?

A dental spa is a dental office that bridges the gap between dentistry/dental hygiene and health spas. It provides therapeutic treatment that enhances the patient’s visit while healing and nurturing.

Dental spas are devoted to providing the best in oral health and fitness. Spa dentistry helps alleviate the discomfort and apprehension that so often accompanies a visit to the dentist. It evolved from a group of caring dental professionals who wanted to aid the comfort and healing of their patients.

Dental offices that provide other services are not considered true dental spas, although they may call themselves anything that is allowed by their state licensing boards.

Are manicures and pedicures considered healing in the dental office? What about Botox injections? These are a few of the services being provided in contemporary dental offices. Should we offer hair stylists as part of the dental team? What about tanning beds?

Anyone serving baked breads and coffee cakes? If we’re baking cookies in the office for the aroma, are we offering these sugary items to our patients? Are we contradicting our preventive education about keeping processed sugars to a minimum? Would the dentist be liable for something like this? This is food for thought (no pun intended).

What makes any dental professional an expert in the spa arena? Share your thoughts and let’s create a question-and-answer forum regarding this exciting new area of dentistry.

The idea of ridding the dental office of the stereotypical clove-like smell must be followed up with some research and background. The question must be, what are we using to mask these odors and why we using it? The Chinese have been successfully using aromatherapy as medicine for 3,000 years. They have a little history and expertise on this subject. What is being used - essential oils, for example - can either be beneficial or detrimental to a person’s health if not used properly or with quality materials.

What does it mean to use aromatherapy or scented candles? What contraindications are warranted when assessing a medical health history?

Many people get headaches and other allergic reactions from an improperly researched essential oil or candle scent. My mother cannot go near anything scented with vanilla; if she does, she gets a headache. One thing we do not need in the dental office is another form of a headache! My own hygienist cannot be around certain scents or she has an histamine explosion. If we are going to use any scents in the dental office, we need to know what these are and what happens when we use them. Your input is important. Please e-mail me at perioromatherapy@aol.com with your questions and input.

Next month, we will discuss the topic of natural healing in oral health. We will also look at the definitions of holistic, homeopathic, and alternative medicine.

Debra Grant, RDH, CA, operates her own company, Oraspa, Inc. (“The Original Dental Spa”). Her continued education in aromatherapy and dental hygiene ensures the state of the art information for the contemporary dental office. She is the creator of Perioromatherapy, a technique used in her dental office. Debra offers educational programs and training as a speaker and consultant. She may be reached at www.oraspa-rdh.com or perioromatherapy@aol.com.

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