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Trained ‘Comfort Dog’ Helps Children Overcome Their Fear Of Going To The Dentist

Children have nothing to fear when JoJo is on the job.

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JoJo snuggles young patients getting dental work to help keep them calm. Via JoJo The Comfort Dog/Facebook
John Virata

A visit to the dentist can be challenging for children. While some see the visit as a fun time to get their teeth tickled, others dread it and approach it with trepidation. Dentists and their assistants try all kinds of things to make a child comfortable, but Pediatric Dentistry of Northbrook, just outside Chicago, has kicked it up a notch with JoJo, a trained comfort dog who helps little patients overcome their fears of the dental chair.

JoJo comes into work at the dental office once a month. The 6-year-old Golden Retriever — who was one of the first comfort responders to help students in the aftermath of the tragic Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting — makes herself accessible to children at the practice. She usually lies on her patients’ laps while they pet her, JoJo’s handler Lynne Ryan told the Daily Herald.

Ryan came up with the idea of having JoJo help out at the dental office. She is currently the only Golden Retriever with Lutheran Church Charities to comfort patients at a dental practice.
 

JoJo and the staff at Pediatric Dentistry of Northbrook. Via JoJo The Comfot Dog/Facebook

JoJo and the staff at Pediatric Dentistry of Northbrook. Via JoJo The Comfort Dog/Facebook

“I’ve been working as a handler for five years, and I thought JoJo could really do some good here,” Ryan told the paper.

JoJo has worked with all kinds of children who come to the office for all kinds of work, and is really helpful to children who come in to get cavities filled or teeth pulled, Ryan said.

One patient that JoJo has helped is Sophia Quartararo. Sophia’s mother Mary told the Herald that Sophia has a sensory disorder and had been unsuccessful in getting dental treatment at three different dental practices. One practice suggested that Sophia be put under general anesthesia just to clean her teeth.
 

JoJo comforts a patient. Via JoJo The Comfort Dog/Facebook

JoJo comforts a patient. Via JoJo The Comfort Dog/Facebook

When Quartararo heard about JoJo the comfort dog helping little patients at Pediatric Dentistry, she and her daughter met with Jojo before scheduling a visit to the dentist. Then, with JoJo’s assistance, Sophia was able to get the dental treatment that she needed.

“My daughter loves animals, and especially dogs,” Quartararo told the newspaper. “She found JoJo to be so patient and loving and caring. JoJo stayed quietly on her lap the whole time, and when Sophia heard a drill or a noise, she’d reach for the dog.”

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