Assistance animals prescribed for many different conditions and situations have become a frequent topic of discussion in recent years.
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, many businesses must allow service animals to accompany disabled individuals into any public area of a facility. For example, a hospital would allow the presence of a service animal in exam rooms, patient rooms, clinics, and cafeterias, but not necessarily in an operating room or burn unit where a sterile environment could be compromised.
Studies have shown AAT’s effectiveness in lowering blood pressure and improving mood. Hospitals, mental health therapy, and eldercare facilities currently employ AAT as a matter of course, but assistance animals are much less common in dentistry. Early research shows a correlation between AAT and stress reduction in populations that range from the elderly to children with different cognitive abilities.
Incorporating AAT encourages patients to focus on the therapy animal rather than their own symptoms or pain. However, AAT in dentistry carries risks such as allergies, fear of animals, and infection concerns. Guidelines for the use of AAT have been outlined by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology (SHEA), while training standards have been set by Pet Partners. Additional guidelines are also recommended by the American Veterinary Association.
The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
About Dr. Colleran
Dr. Colleran is a nationally renowned dental author and lecturer and an expert on laser dentistry. He has spoken across the country on laser dentistry and had articles appear in several professional journals. He is also sought after by dental manufacturers as a consultant for product evaluation and research. Dr. Colleran is an instructor for the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry, which teaches LANAP and other laser dental procedures to dentists from across the globe.
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