Trauma patients receive dental care in relaxed, spa-like exam rooms to ease anxiety

A ground-breaking dental study in Lancaster County helps low-income people who’ve suffered from trauma.  The study puts the patient at ease by reducing their fears and anxieties.

When a patient walks into a room, they feel like they’re in a Spa because of the warm lights, water falls and lavender smells.  It’s where dental hygienists like Tina Nissly help low-income patients who’ve suffered from trauma.

Nissly says, “A room like this just helps to give more peace and calmness to the patient.”

She says the alternative care is going to reduce traumatic triggers sparked during dental exams. “Instead of having to give medications, we have the sound of the water falling, the feel of the lighting, no overhead lighting,” says Nissly.

Colleen Elmer is the executive director of Water Street Health Services.  She says, “Using a pharmaceutical option can trigger relapse, people to re-live trauma.”

Water Street Health is launching a study called “Restore.”  “Restore” uses three ways to help patients including environmental changes, relaxation and communication. Elmer says, “Do they want to be called by their name, want us to have a sit down meeting before they come in and receive care.”

When the year long study is complete, program leaders will determine if this care will help patients who otherwise would have stayed away because they were too scared.

The study is a collaboration between Water Street Health Services, Lancaster General Health, St. Joseph’s Health Ministries, Franklin and Marshall College and Lancaster County’s Dental Community.


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