Michelle Crouch for KHN
Dental Dogs

Good read: The regulation of four-legged dental staff members

Sept. 28, 2023
Despite the popularity of dogs at the dental office to ease anxiety, it's a largely unregulated practice—except in North Carolina. Learn more.

Enjoy this “good read,” an excerpt from an article or other online source related to dentistry curated and shared with DentistryIQ readers.

Across the country, a growing number of dentists are bringing in four-legged staff members to reduce dental anxiety for both children and adults, typically at no additional cost to patients.

But the practice of using dental dogs has a surprising lack of regulation. In most states, nothing prevents a dentist from bringing in an untrained pet and calling it a comfort or therapy dog, possibly putting patients at risk for an infection or a dog attack. Patients with allergies or a fear of dogs might also have concerns.

In North Carolina, complaints from patients concerned about sanitation and safety prompted state regulators to approve a rule allowing only certain types of highly trained dogs in dental exam rooms. It took effect in June 2021 and is thought to be the first regulation of its kind nationwide.

Read "A Dog Day at the Dentist's: North Carolina Regulates Pups in Dentistry" in KFF Health News


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