Using Essential Oils in Dental Clinics to Calm Anxious Patients

Anxiety in dental patients is a common problem, one that can lead to missed appointments, panic attacks in the dental office and other unwanted reactions. A study carried out in 2006 found that as many as 16% of Australians suffer from "high dental fear".

Anxious patients are often treated using conventional methods such as pharmaceuticals or sedation, though there is a less obtrusive way of treating nervous patients, one that will appeal to patients who would rather not be medicated. Essential oils are known to ease tension and can be used either on their own or alongside more conventional treatments.

Essential oils are naturally occurring volatile oils that are extracted from the bark, stems, leaves, flowers and roots of plants, and they are commonly used for their curative effects. When you smell an essential oil, a message is sent to the limbic system, the part of the brain that affects moods and emotions. Therefore, aromatherapy is a way of using essential oils to protect and heal the body and encourage a sense of wellbeing. 

A recent study has shown that lavender essential oil is a good choice for use with anxious dental patients due to its relaxing and sedative effects. In the study, lavender oil was burned in a clinic's waiting area using a candle warmer, and it was shown that the oil had a lowering effect on the anxiety levels of the patients. Other essential oils that are known to reduce anxiety include oils of orange, frankincense, and chamomile, and all of these can be safely warmed in a candle warmer or an electric diffuser. Not only do these oils aid relaxation, they also help rid waiting rooms of the dental smell that can so often trigger feelings of anxiety in patients.

A couple of drops of lavender essential oil can also be applied to the wrists or temples, either by the dentist (obviously with the permission of the patient) or directly by the patient, though it is important that the oil is kept away from the eyes. If the patient prefers, a couple of drops of oil can be dropped into his or her palms, rubbed together and inhaled, whatever makes the patient feel the most comfortable.

It is important that essential oils are used carefully, and they should never be taken internally. If used in a safe and responsible manner, essential oils can be a great tool for dentists to use in their clinics to calm and centre their anxious patients. For more ways to reduce dental fear, contact a company like Adelaide Smile Centre.