Ads serve as distraction from root canals

/ Source: The Associated Press

Talk about your captive audience.

Advertising is coming to the dentist's chair in the form of personal video goggles that patients wear while getting their cleaning or root canal.

The company behind InChairTV figures advertisers for toothpaste, toothbrushes, mouthwash and other dental products will be willing to pay higher rates to reach people seeking distractions from dental procedures. Companies selling travel packages and other stress-relief services might also find the dentist's chair prime time to make their pitches.

Willing patients put on a special headset to watch movies or television shows licensed from The Walt Disney Co. and its ABC TV network. The programs and infomercials are sent to dentists on DVDs, but soon they will be downloadable over the Internet.

For the past year, InChairTV has been filling commercial breaks with short infomercials about teeth whitening and other premium procedures. Now the company says it is opening the commercial breaks to outside advertisers, though it has yet to close any deals.

Matthew Leader, chief executive of InChairTV's MedPed Media LLC, points out that patients are focused while they're sitting in the chair — there's no e-mail or other distractions as they have while watching regular TV. And people who regularly visit dentists tend to have more money and be better educated than the general population, Leader said.

"We definitely see the value as much higher than undifferentiated broadcast television," Leader said.

Broadcasters shouldn't have to worry yet: Only about 400 dentists nationwide have bought the $500 system to entertain their patients.