We’ve heard the message many times: Take care of your mouth as part of your overall good health.

But it’s expensive going to the dentist regularly. That’s why some creative folks in Toronto have developed an affordable spa for oral care. You can go there to have basic services done by a dental hygienist, and pay 10 per cent to 30 per cent less than going to the dentist. Plus you get to sit back and be pampered.

“The response has been great!” says Georgia Thomas, a dental hygienist who opened the spa in 2008. “We are proud to be the only place in Toronto where you can slip on cozy slippers, receive a paraffin wax hand treatment, melt back into a massaging chair and have your mouth cared for, all with the soothing smells and sounds of a spa,” she says.

Thomas thought of the idea 12 years ago when she was a student, but the concept could not be turned into reality legally. New legislation in Ontario and several other provinces now permits dental hygienists to practice without supervision by a dentist, so we may see more dental hygienists opening independent clinics in the future.

The focus of Impressions, The Dental Hygiene Spa, is preventing gum disease, bad breath and tooth decay.

The spa provides basic services: exams, cleaning, polishing, cavity detection, desensitization and whitening. Customers are referred to a dentist if something is suspicious or if they need X-rays.

Here are some of the price comparisons. For cleaning teeth, the spa charges a bit less than the fee you would pay at a dentist. For an examination and assessment, the spa charges $61, while the cost of an initial complete examination at a dental office starts at approximately $120. Polishing is $11, versus about $17 at the dentist, and fluoride is $13, versus about $24 at the dentist.

Company insurance plans generally do accept billing from independent dental hygiene providers. The dental hygiene spa staff routinely check each customer’s insurance policy too see what is covered, and discuss options with the client.

Working closely with customers in a relaxed atmosphere is Thomas’ vision. “It is so rewarding to collaborate with the client and involve them in the entire treatment process,” she says. “Our clients feel like they are no longer left in the dark about their oral health and they truly appreciate the respect and the personalized care they receive at our spa,” she adds.