27 Jan Airo AV Report: Rescue dog helps keep patients calm at dentist’s office
When Joshua Stamper graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry in 2018, he had the dream of opening his own practice one day. He never predicted just a little over a year later, he would find the perfect opportunity to do so.
Along with his new practice, he has a special co-worker with him, his 100-pound black lab mix, Turbo.
“I raised Turbo during dental school with my roommates,” he said. “We realized he was calm and docile, a giant baby. We trained him and he did so good we sent him for advanced training.”
Many find it hard to believe Turbo was originally a rescue dog. According to Stamper, the dog just needed a vet visit and a lot of love and he came to life. Turbo who is 6 years old, is now part of the office. Patients of any age find the dog brings them a sense of happiness during any level of dental work.
“At first, I was pretty nervous about it,” Stamper said. “I thought I’m going to bring my dog to work and bring him in my office. A young patient was scared during a visit one day. I asked her if she liked dogs and when she said yes, I decided to give it a try.”
Turbo stays at the front desk most of the time. Though Stamper lets everyone know he’s there, patients do not have to visit with the dog. So far, the office addition has been a big hit.
“It puts patients in a better mood about being somewhere they don’t want to be,” Stamper said. “I don’t want visits to be dark, drab and depressing. Turbo fit in perfectly to that plan.”
Stamper spent time working at a free dental clinic in Lexington and traveled on mission trips doing free dental work. Through all of his dentistry experiences- he found one commonality.
“There are a lot of people out there who are afraid to come to the dentist,” he said. “I like breaking down the barriers. If I can help them come in for dental work, I can help them prevent future problems because they avoided it too long.”
The practice has expanded from six treatment rooms to nine which is a great way to accommodate new patients, according to Stamper. New to the office, massage chairs are available during routine cleaning as a way to make the visits more enjoyable. Patients also receive free teeth whitening for life.
“I want to create access to care, try to attract people to the chair,” Stamper said.
One of Stamper’s future goals includes continuing to welcome new patients within his current space and offer patients a more pleasant experience. He hopes to make care available for the modern working family.
“I love Owensboro,” Stamper said. “It’s a perfect fit for me. I like knowing my neighbors and my patients.”