Leo the Dog

For some, going to the dentist is not a pleasant experience. Some of the most common dental fears include fear of gagging, of injections, of pain and of the sound of the drill. Luckily some of those techniques have been replaced such as painless laser beams to replace the noisy drill. But for those who still feel anxiety and fear, Cherry Hill Dental Excellence has a solution and it is a cuddly one.

His name is Leo. Leo is a Therapy Dog, trained by Pet Assisted Visitation Volunteer Services, Inc. (PAWS).  PAWS is an all-volunteer nonprofit pet assisted therapy organizations training pets all over Delaware and the surrounding counties of Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey to bring smiles, brighter attitudes and calmer emotions to those who suffer from depression and anxiety. Leo works out of the offices of Cherry Hill Dental Excellence and he is the family pet of the practice’s owner, Dr. Zahra Afsharzand.

“When Leo was a puppy, I often kept him in my separate office at the practice because I did not want to leave him alone all day.” says Afsharzand.  “When I took him out for his walks, etc. my patients just loved him and I realized he could be of service to them, especially new patients who are often more anxious than my regular patients.”

How the program works is Leo must accomplish 200 hours of service, like an internship, to be officially certified as a AKC Therapy Dog. He started his training already at Cherry Hill Dental Excellence. Willing regular patients and staff volunteers are participating. They sit with Leo in a separate room and Leo is trained to sit with them, not jump or chase anything and keep the patient calm and ready for their procedure. So far, Leo has put in 30 hours of service and is soon ready for his certification.

Dr. Afsharzand has more than 27 years of experiences as a dentist and prosthodontist, which specializes in the restoration of oral function by creating prostheses and custom restorations. She completed her graduate training at Temple University and taught for several years as an adjunct professor at University of Pennsylvania. Her Cherry Hill Dental Excellence practice provide general and specialty prosthodontic dental treatment, as well as treatment for periodontal disease, orthodontics, cosmetic dentistry and others. She is a member of the American College of Prosthodontics, the American Cleft-Palate Craniofacial Association and the American Dental Association.

Comfort and safety are top of mind at Cherry Hill Dental Excellence. “We know there is often a stigma about going to the dentist,” observes Dr A. “So, we keep our atmosphere warm and relaxing with cool colors and friendly staff and now Leo, our therapy dog. Smiling, she adds, “He is the one staff member everyone loves the most.”

For more information, visit www.cherryhilldentalexcellence.com or call 856-428-2550.