A Guide to Dental Spas

By: Stephanie Miles August 3, 2009

As the number of cosmetic dental procedures has increased in recent years, so has the demand for dental spas across the country. A cross between a dentist’s office and a beauty spa, dental spas are designed to make everyday dental procedures less scary by utilizing a number of relaxation techniques throughout the office. Visits to dental spas grew by 143 percent between 1997 and 2002, according to the International SPA Association, making dental spas one of the fastest growing niche fields in the medical industry.

With dental spas, gone are the days of scary dentists haunting your nightmares. With dental spas, gone are the days of scary dentists haunting your nightmares.

Despite the recent surge in popularity, dental spas have actually been around for more than 30 years, when dentists first began looking into ways to make a trip to their office a more pleasant experience. Since then, the dental spa industry has gotten a boost from the abundance of new cosmetic procedures that bring patients into the office more frequently and for longer periods of time.

What is a dental spa?

Dental spas are licensed dental facilities where patients can undergo a variety of dental procedures in a more relaxing atmosphere than the standard dentist’s office. To do this, dental spas utilize a number of age-old techniques meant to sooth patients, many of which are also used in popular day spas.

In large cities and small towns, dental spas are commonly found in hospitals, health clubs, and resort or hotel settings, as well as medical parks and shopping centers. Patients visiting a dental spa for the first time can expect to find a soothing, calming atmosphere, commonly decorated with soft colors and candlelight, similar to a day spa environment.

Among the services offered at a dental spa that may not be offered at a standard dentist’s office: Patients are welcome to experience complimentary massages and reflexology while undergoing stressful dental procedures, and may also occasionally be offered the chance to relax in vibrating chairs, watch movies, or listen to music during the exams as well—all with the goal of putting the patient in as relaxed a state as possible.

In addition, many dental spas offer a wider variety of cosmetic dental procedures than those offered in other medical offices. These include teeth whitening, veneers, enamel shaping, contouring, and bonding, along with the more standard dental procedures such as cleanings and cavity fillings.

Who should consider going to a dental spa?

Patients with a fear of the dentist are considered excellent candidates for dentistry spas, where they can expect to receive the same quality of care with less fear-inducing stress. Beyond those with an overwhelming fear of dentists, however, dental spas are an excellent option for just about anyone needing dental care. Because these offices offer virtually every service a person could need—from basic teeth cleaning to more advanced root canals and other procedures—just about anyone can consider visiting one.

What are the benefits of dental spas?

Dental spas can turn an otherwise anxious experience into a relaxing time. Dental spas can turn an otherwise anxious experience into a relaxing time.

Thousands of would-be dental patients forego visits to the dentist each year due to an overwhelming fear of the dentist’s chair. Thanks to the emergence of dental spas, however, many of these people are finally able to get themselves in to see a doctor, albeit in a calming environment where they feel relaxed and safe.

As an additional way to calm patient’s anxieties, many dental spas offer pharmaceutical sedation methods not available in other practices. Although they should be used sparingly, these methods are an obvious benefit to anyone who has experienced the terror of sitting through a grueling dental procedure for hours on end with only mild anesthetic.

In addition, dentists report that certain procedures and oral operations can actually be more dangerous on patients who are tensed up, which is why examining patients who are relaxed is actually beneficial for the dentistry professional as well.

Are there are risks to visiting a dental spa?

Although dental spas have many followers, they have many detractors as well. As such, dental spas are not recognized by the American Dental Association—which governs dentistry practices across the country—even though they are recognized by the International Medical Spa Association. A number of licensed dentists have spoken out against dental spas, and worry that patients may be seeking out dental procedures that are unnecessary and potentially harmful.

To combat this, patients interested in visiting a dental spa for the first time would be well advised to seek out information about the specific spa they are visiting beforehand. This includes ensuring that the dental practitioner is licensed, that the spa itself is licensed, and finding out what past patients have to say about the practice. In addition, prospective patients can contact the Better Business Bureau to ensure that no complaints have been filed against the salon before booking their first appointment.

Are you looking for a dental spa near you? Check out the links below!