You've seen them in schools, hospitals, even senior centers. But what about the dentist office?

Therapy dogs have a way of making people feel better, and that caught the attention of a dental office in Ahwatukee.

Dr. Anita Marra said she came up with the idea of bringing therapy dogs into the office after seeing how well they interacted with kids at local hospitals and clinics.

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Marra and her husband Bob had worked with therapy animals before and thought they'd be perfect for helping dental patients overcome their fear and anxiety.

"It's amazing how much it calms down patients," Marra said. "We are using less nitric oxide, less local anesthetic. Even patients who aren't afraid say it's much more relaxing."

The two therapy dogs roaming the halls at Foothills Family Dental office are mini Goldendoodles named Mia and Bella.

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Some patients want the dogs with them for their entire procedures. Others use them just when they sit down.

"Yeah, I think that it's kind of soothing," patient Cody Damron said. "I have a dog at home, a similar type of dog, so it just feels relaxed."

Mia and Bella are hypoallergenic, don't shed, and don't interfere with what's going on, Marra said.

"They know to stay in someone's lap or on a chair beside them, and they stay away from the sterile working field environment we are working in," Marra explained. "They know to leave it and not pick anything up."

Mia and Bella are both officially licensed therapy dogs and have been working at the dental office since January.

"I'm really amazed at how valuable they've become to our practice," Marra said. "I think you'll see a lot more of it."

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