Dr. Shruti Kulkarni, Bhabha College of Dental Sciences, Bhopal.
Dr. Anisha Maria, Head of Department, Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Bhabha College of Dental Sciences, Bhopal.
Dental phobia and anxiety is very common among dental patients. This fear and anxiety often acts as a barrier in providing efficient dental treatment. Sometimes it even makes patient management difficult. There are various ways for management of dental anxiety and some of them include prescribing medications which can have their own side effects. Aromatherapy on the other hand, is effective and has no side effects. Aromatherapy is a form of holistic therapy that has been used for thousand years for promoting physical and emotional health. It uses essential oils having antifungal, antibacterial and healing properties. They are used for inhalation and are also applied to skin in form of lotions and creams. Some of the essential oils include lavender, rose, sandalwood, clary sage, chamomile, cedar wood, jasmine, vetiver, lemon, orange, basil, neroli, juniper and many more. In a research conducted, lavender was tested to be effective in reducing dental anxiety among patients. This article discusses on how aromatherapy, as a simple cost effective procedure, can benefit our patients and help us deliver quality treatment. It will also help in making our clinic livelier and filled with positive vibes in a stressful pandemic scenario, whether we are starting out or getting back to dental practice.
Keywords– Dental anxiety, aromatherpy, lavender, essential oils
“One drop, one small action, one little step can and does create change”
Aromatherapy is a traditional complementary therapy which uses concentrated essential or volatile oils extracted from herbs, flowers, roots, barks, leaves and stems and other parts of plant to treat various diseases (1).
These oils have healing, stimulating, calming, antitoxic and anti-septic properties. These oils alter psychological state, reduce stress and anxiety, and are often used to give energy and to balance the body, mind and spirit.(2)
Mechanism of Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy works through sense of smell, these oils when inhaled activate olfactory nerve cells, which then send impulses to brain causing circulatory and nervous stimulation.(2)
Aromatherapy in Dental Office
- Panic attacks
Other than reducing anxiety and stress aromatherapy is also used in various other modalities. It is effective in treating mouth ulcers, gingivitis and halitosis. (2)
Ways to use aromatherapy in dental setting
- Aerial dispersion via electronic glass diffusers– 15 minutes every two hours, best for respiratory ailments, fragrancing, energy sedation, stimulation and to clean the air of bacteria and microbes.
- For potpourri– 25 drops to unscented dry flower mix (or a potpourri that has lost its scent)
- Water spray– essential oil spritzer. In a 4 ounce container of water, place 10 to 15 drops of essential oils. This can be used for fragrant rooms and clean air.
- Clay candle-useful in treatment of emotional upsets or to provide a pleasant atmosphere. (3)
Various essential oils
Anxiety-lavender, neroli, rose, sandalwood, clary sage, cedar wood.
Fear- jasmine, grapefruit, lemon, sandalwood, rose, chamomile.
Insecurity- bergamot, cedar wood, jasmine, vetiver.
Panic attacks-lavender, neroli, rose.
Stress- clary sage, jasmine, lavender, mandarin, neroli, sandalwood, ylang ylang. (3)
Lavender: a wonder
Lavender oil is known for relaxing, carminative and sedative effects. It is proven that its fragrance reduces dental anxiety.
Lavender has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and is useful in skin problems, boosting immune system, management of burns, migraine, stress, reduce blood pressure. Research shows its inhalation can decrease cortisol and anxiety levels. It also increases quality of sleep in many patients.(4)
Smell is a potent wizard and is capable of changing emotional states. Aromatherapy in dental settings is a low cost and effective way of reducing anxiety. It is a safe and complementary therapy and should find applications in regular dentistry for a high quality of practice.
- Vagish Kumar- Application of aromatherapy in managing dental anxiety.The journal of research and education in Indian medicine, January 2018.
- Sudha Jimson, L.Malathi, G.Nandhini Devi and S.Leena Sankari. Aromatherapy a review, Biomedical and pharmacological journal, August 2016.
- Aromatherapy in the dental office and beyond- January 1st 2014 www.dentistryiq.com
- Md.Zabirunnisa, Jayaprakash s., Gadagi and Chandrashekhar Thatimatla. Dental patient anxiety :possible deal with lavender fragrance, Journal of research in pharmacy practice-www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
- Spa dentistry; when prophylaxis meet aromatherapy-Lauren Bryant