It's all about the canines

Published: Apr. 18, 2018 at 5:51 PM CDT
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What do a dentist and a dog have in common? One local dentist is using his best friend, and well, to some extent his business partner for teaching moments in dental hygiene.​

At just 3 years old, Bennett not only holds a job at a dentist office, but is now signing in as a visitor at schools across the Bluegrass.

"Some people are afraid of going to the dentist," said Dr. Matt Riley, Dental Director of Barren River Health Department. "Bennett is a therapy dog, and I actually bring Bennett to the office sometimes."

The idea Riley came up with is simple.

"Alright and what song do we sing on our birthday?" asked Riley to a classroom full of eager kids. "The happy birthday song and that's exactly how long you can remember to brush your teeth."

The demonstration was made easy by the willing pup, who actually enjoys getting his teeth brushed, and the presentation resonated with these kids.

"You get a little bit of toothpaste and you sing the happy birthday song twice," said Amber Guffey, 3rd grader at Austin Tracy Elementary. "He's a good example."

"I've never seen a dog brush their teeth," expressed Reid Hoffman, 3rd grader.

The program started eight months ago, but this dog has been special from the beginning.

"I noticed he had a way with patients, and that patients really enjoyed him, and not only did he behave, but he was able to get patients to be relaxed," explained Riley.

Bennett brightened the smiles of kids all throughout South Central Kentucky.

"That's what makes my job so fun," said Joey Bunch, Principal at Austin Tracy Elementary. "It's neat to see their faces light up - them being happy, them being excited about something that is important to them, and we know it's gonna be for a long time throughout their life."

On Wednesday, Matt Riley and Bennett visited four classrooms at Austin Tracy Elementary. Over the past eight months, they have visited over a dozen schools.