In Woodbury, Applewood Family Dental has introduced an innovative solution for dental phobias: a 6-year-old cocker spaniel named Molly. She’s a certified therapy dog, and for the past year, she’s been available (free of charge) to lie down on patients’ laps to help them overcome fear and anxiety during treatments.
For patients of all ages, it's working.
“We have an adult patient who used to need Valium for all her work as well as cleanings,” says Molly’s owner Mary Reck, who works as a dental assistant at Applewood. “She no longer takes the Valium. Instead, all she needs is a good dose of Molly.”
A dose of Molly offers several advantages over nitrous oxide, Valium, or other pharmacological solutions. There are no side effects, and adult patients can drive themselves home after treatments. Patients tend to see benefits from the moment Molly greets them at the door.
For some patients, Molly was their last option.
“We had a patient whose mom called and had tried everything with her daughter. She was thinking of taking her daughter to be sedated at the hospital for her dental work,” Reck recalls. “She had heard about Molly and wanted to try as a last resort. She arrived with her daughter and Molly greeted her at the door. We took the girl back and Molly jumped up in her lap and lay down. The girl was laughing and petting Molly. We took things slow and did all the treatment that she needed. Mom was in the room and when we finished, Mom started to cry, she was so happy that it worked out. She hugged me and was thanking everyone in the office. I have seen things like this many times and each time it reinforces the power of pet therapy. I love that Molly and I can give this to patients.”
With stories like these, it’s no wonder Molly has risen to office mascot status, complete with her own business cards, trading cards, and Facebook page, where she has amassed more than 500 fans. Off the job, Molly lives with Reck and plays with an ever-changing lineup of canine siblings, whom Reck fosters for Twin Cities Pet Rescue. She gets paid in dog treats and of course, lots of petting. It’s a ruff life.