"Spa dentistry" refers to dental practices that offer many services not normally associated with dental care: facials, paraffin wax hand treatment, reflexology, micro-dermabrasion, massage therapy, Botox and Restylane treatment, and many other pampering, therapeutic and rejuvenating offerings. The administration of botox and restylane is based on each respective state's dental board approval.
The American Dental Association notes that the consumer media have coined the term “dental spa,” but many practices offer services and amenities specifically designed to relax patients without considering themselves a “spa.” The loose definition of “dental spas” makes it difficult if not impossible to know how many dental spas exist in the United States.
In 2003, Lynn Watanabe, DDS of the Dental Spa in Pacific Palisades, California and the Day Spa Association defined a dental spa as "a facility whose dental program is run under the strict supervision of a licensed Oral Health Care Provider, which might be a Dentist or an Independent Dental Hygienist. Services are provided that integrate both traditional and non-traditional dental and spa treatments (such as massage therapy, skincare and body treatments)." 
Ancient civilizations such as the Greeks and Chinese all used certain methods to relax a person suffering from ailments such as a toothache. The "barber surgeon" in the 18th and 19th century allowed barbers to perform some dental procedures as well as shaves and haircuts. The term "spa dentistry" (presently synonymous to dental spa) actually was used in the 18th century to describe dental practitioners in Bath England. Ms. Curris, a female dentist in 18th Century Bath England likely created the first dental spa offering patients dentistry with skin and bodycare.
1986 Debra Grant created Perioromatherapy: The Original Dental Spa in Boca Raton, FL.
1994 London's The Guardian has identified the Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry as "one of the first of these new dental spas.” The February 19, 2007 reported that Debra Gray King, DDS, began providing spa services at the Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry in 1994.
1996 Lorin Berland DDS, began providing a massage therapist on staff.
1999 On July 11, 1999, the New York Times reported several Long Island dentists were offering "distraction techniques" by offering massage therapy to their patients. The article reports that massage services were offered since early 1999.
2001 On October 1, 2002, Salt Lake Magazine reported that the Dental Spa in Sugarhouse provided patients with complimentary spa services such as temple massage, hand treatments, eye masks, and other techniques aimed at calming the patients. The spa services were provided since the Spa's inception in 2001.
2002 On August 12, 2002, the Los Angeles Times reported Lynn Watanabe, DDS, one of the field's "pioneers," opened "Dental Spa" in Pacific Palisades, California with a full-time esthetician and full-time massage therapist.
2009 Mickelwait Family Dentistry & Spa of Mount Vernon, WA was the first dental spa to open in Skagit and Whatcom counties in Washington state. Washington allows Botox and dermal fillers to be performed by a doctor of dental surgery.
Other early adopters
The Wall Street Journal noted some of early Dental Spas in the world include Wynn Okuda of Honolulu, Dr. Debra Gray King of Atlanta, Jeff Golub-Evans of New York, and Grace Sun of Los Angeles, Some later adopters of the dental spa concept include "Cocosmile" (2005) in Helsinki, Finland; California, "Northwoods Dental Spa" (2004) in San Antonio, Texas, USA; and "Dental Spa" in Seoul, Korea.
In 2003, the American Dental Association reported that more than 50% of 427 practicing dentists surveyed at their annual session offered some sort of spa or office amenity. In 2005, as many as 5% of the American Dental Association's more than 152,000 members had declared themselves "dental spas", a number then growing daily in the U.S. and in other countries, including Panama, Korea, Brazil and Finland. In 2007, the ADA estimated that possibly that one in every 20 dental offices in the United States actually offers, to some extent, some spa dentistry services to their patients.
In 1978, the Holistic Dental Association was formed to focus on the mind-body connection and the dental patient's well being. Spa dentistry is presently recognized by the International Medical Spa Association and the Day Spa Association, but similar to the field of cosmetic dentistry, is not recognized as a specialty practice area by the American Dental Association. In 2002, Lynn Watanabe, DDS founded the first dental spa association with the creation of the International Dental Spa Association. The New York Times reported in 2006 that "it now has ten members and are coming up with guidelines for what services constitute a dental spa."
Dental fear studies
One of the main reasons people avoid visiting the dentist is dental anxiety. Dental anxiety drives some people to create more dental problems by not visiting the dentist on a regular basis. Patients who are high in dental anxiety have the greatest likelihood of avoiding dental treatment. An estimated nine percent to fifteen percent of the American population—about 30 million to 40 million people—avoid essential dental care because of fear or anxiety.
The first known scientific study on dental fear occurred in 1954. Dental anxiety has been a well-studied phenomenon since the late 1960s. Since then, studies and several books report successful treatment of patients with dental fear using behavioral methods.
Although there are many variations, adapters of the dental spa concept generally offer cosmetic, general, and restorative dentistry with a key focus on making the visit a pampering and pleasant experience.
Faux dental spas
On one end of the spectrum, some dental offices have done little more than adding candles, flat-screen TVs, cookies and juice in the reception area and call themselves a dental spa.
Dental med spas
On the other end, other dental offices have combined with spas, plastic surgeons, hair salons and other healthcare, spa and beauty industry professionals.
- Brosseau, J. (September/October 2005) Spa Rx: Transcend-dental Spa Finder Magazine. Accessed September 13, 2007.
- Quinion, M. (Feb. 2003). “Dental Spa” World Wide Words http://www.worldwidewords.org/turnsofphrase/tp-den2.htm (Toronto Star November 2002 coverage of Dental Spa Pacific Palisades and citing The Guardian,’' London, Jan. 2003)(“The Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry in Georgia is one of the first of these new dental spas.”) Brosseau, J. (September/October 2005) Spa Rx: Transcend-dental Spa Finder Magazine. Accessed September 13, 2007. ("Lynn Watanabe, DDS, one of the field's pioneers")
- Glick, M. One-Stop Shopping J Am Dent Assoc. Vol 138, No 3, 282-283 (2007).
- American Dental Assoc. News Release Growing Number of Oral Health Care Providers Offer Patient-Pampering Amenities J Am Dent Assoc October 23, 2003.
- Day Spa Association Glossary 2003
- Dental+Spa=Blackjack, American Dental Association 147th Annual Scientific Session, October 19, 2006.
- Fawcett, T., Spa dentistry: practitioners in 18th century Bath. May 1996.
- Spa Opens May 1” (April 9, 1997). The Sacramento Bee ("The Dental Spa" teeth whitening salon opened May 1, 1997 in California.
- Wahl, P., Hollett, L., Hegarty, G. KNOCKS and Rubs of Dental Spas Dental Economics (Sept. 29, 2004)
- Schwartz, B. Facial and Dental Beauty is Goal of Skin Care Clinic Dental Management (August 1988).
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- "Dental Spa” World Wide Words citing The Guardian,’' London, (Jan. 2003)(“The Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry in Georgia is one of the first of these new dental spas.”).
- Clayton, V. (Feb 19, 2007) Relax and say, ‘Ahhh’; Stressed about that dental cleaning and exam? Some spa-like offices now offer aromatherapy, facials, even massages.” Los Angeles Times (“Dr. Debra Gray King, an Atlanta dentist who has been featured on ABC’s '‘Extreme Makeover,'’ has been offering spa services since 1994.”)
- Dalin, J. A conversation with...Lorin Berland, DDS. Dental Economics (April 1, 2005) (For me, probably the first step in spa dentistry came in 1996 when I brought a massage therapist into the office.")
-  New York Times,"Open Wide, and How About a Massage?" July 11, 1999.
- Salt Lake Magazine, October 1, 2002.
- Los Angeles Times, August 12, 2002.
- "Atlanta Center for Cosmetic Dentistry". Atlantacenterforcosmeticdentistry.com. Retrieved February 7, 2013.
- "Massaging More Than Your Gums" September 10, 2002. The Wall Street Journal
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- Clinica Ford Dental Spa | Dr. Richard Ford, Panama
- Southwest Airlines Spirit Magazine, August 2005.
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- WPTV, May 14, 2008, Dental Spas
- WFTV, June 17, 2008, Patients Relaxing in Dental Spas
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- Song, S. “Root Canals Are Better With a Foot Massage,” Time, December 30, 2002. (“You feel like you're there to get nurtured and pampered.”).