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Unique Dentist Office Replaces Fear with Fun

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It's estimated that as many as 20 percent of Americans have a fear of going to the dentist. That often means people not going as often as they should and ending up with more problems.

Dr. Mulvihill introduces us to a dentist who is trying to replace the fear with fun.

It looks like a normal dentist office. Except of course for the foot massage. That's right, a foot massage.

Justin Toal: "You can't go wrong with a foot massage".

Then there are the tranquil surroundings. The candles. The colored glasses. The relaxing nature videos and hypnotic computer screen savers. And the lobby that looks more like a spa than a medical facility.

This is transcendentist, a new dental service in Berkeley, California. It's the brainchild of Dr. Fred Pockrass. He says it's a high tech, high touch service.

Dr. Fred Prockrass, DDS. Transcendentist: "So we have our foot massage person who is taking care of the touch part, while we are using all of the technology to make sure that all the dentistry we are doing is top notch."

And there's plenty of technology.

There's the tiny oral camera that shows the patient exactly what's going on inside their mouth. Computer imagery to show before and after pictures. And digital scans that use 75 to 90 percent less radiation than conventional x-rays.

It's something that appeals to patients like Justin Toal.

"I love gadgets," he says. "And having that little video camera inside your mouth for the tour sure makes me want to floss better."

Transcendentist is the first certified green dental business in Alameda County, and possibly the first eco-friendly dentist in the nation. Everything from the paint on the walls to the carpets and the varnish on the floor are made from environmentally friendly materials.

But it's the people friendly factor that seems to appeal most to patients.

Justin Toal: "I just felt comfortable as soon as I walked in the door."

Debra Bellings-Kee/ Patient: "I really go into a meditative space and somewhere in the distance I hear voices. Things are being done, and pretty soon they are telling me that I have to go."

So how much does all this cost? A new patient visit, which includes a full exam, cleaning, x-rays if necessary, and of course the foot massage, costs $250.

How much is covered by insurance varies a lot according to what policy you have. But if it helps people overcome their fear of the dentist it could be money well spent.

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