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Meet Basil - the dog charged with helping dental patients feel more relaxed

PUBLISHED: 07:00 16 November 2018

Basil the dog is helping patients at dental clinics in Suffolk


Basil the dog is helping patients at dental clinics in Suffolk Picture: RACHEL EDGE


It is a new concept in dental care and it is being introduced at Suffolk dental surgeries.

Community Dental Services CIC have recruited Basil, a six year-old beagle, to offer comfort and distraction for anxious patients.

CDS-CIC, who operate eight clinics across Suffolk, are piloting the pet therapy programme in selected locations and are identifying patients who may benefit from being accompanied by Basil during their treatments.

Senior dental nurse, Jacci Plant, who is Basil’s owner, had the idea to train as a pet therapy practitioner.

She said: “Pet therapy is something I have always been interested in and I knew Basil had the ideal temperament to make a fantastic therapy dog because of his wonderful calm nature around people and his friendly personality.

Basil will be available to help anxious dental patients at Community Dental Services clinics across Suffolk Picture: DAVID VINCENTBasil will be available to help anxious dental patients at Community Dental Services clinics across Suffolk Picture: DAVID VINCENT

“I also knew that pet therapy worked well in other clinical settings or where people have additional needs such as mental health issues or learning disabilities. CDS supported me to source and follow a suitable course and 18 months on I am a qualified Animal Assisted Practitioner. We are now working to identify patients where pet therapy may help them with their treatment and offer it to them as an option.”

Mrs Plant, who has been with CDS for 17 years, said: “Basil will be able to accompany a patient into the surgery, and they can pat him while they in the chair and are being treated.

“We have a wide range of patients including those with additional needs, with phobic problems and who need sedation.

“Hopefully having a dog with them will help them to relax more.”

Dentist Susan Gonsalves at the Chantry clinic in Ipswichsaid: “I think it is a brilliant idea.

“We do have a lot of patients who are anxious when they come in. Having Basil here can make it more fun and less anxious for them.”

Nurse Susan Spratt added: “We get children who bring a cuddly toy with them to help them through their appointment. We already know of some patients who might benefit from having Basil with them.”

Amy Schiller, operations director for CDS, said: “We provide special care and paediatric dentistry and many of our patients, adults and children, have additional needs or severe dental anxiety and may require extensive treatment.

“Reducing anxiety is very important and Basil will be one technique we can use to help patients relax and feel more comfortable about having treatment.

“Overall this is important, because with some patients it may make all the difference between being able to tolerate treatment without more invasive means such as sedation.”

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