Plant extracts have been used in the world of health since the beginning of time. Today we have a vast amount of essential oils that can do anything from cure illness and calm nerves to improving your overall wellness. Many of these oils are used in spas around the world to create an ambiance that can strongly, and positively, influence the brain and nervous system.
But what many people don’t know is that it’s not just spas that are using essential oils, you will find them right here, in our office. When applied prior to and during a dental procedure a patient’s anxiety can be reduced dramatically. And diffusing certain oils can create a soothing aroma.
Essential oils are also an all-natural way to keep your gums and teeth in tip-top shape. You don’t need all the chemicals that come in over the counter toothpastes and mouthwashes. Just like all-natural deodorants are perfectly capable of keeping you dry and odor free, essential oils can keep your mouth healthy and your teeth clean and white.
In our office we see the benefits from using several essential oils, such as lavender, thieves, grapefruit, rosemary, rose, oregano, peppermint, palo santo, and orange, just to name a few. Many of these oils are considered “peace and calming” oils. A patient that may have dental anxiety or panic attacks can rub a small amount the their wrists and inhale the aroma. This soothes and calms the nerves.
Here are a couple of studies that show the benefits of essential oils in the dental world.
1- At the University Clinic of Neurology, Medical University of Vienna, Austria, a study was done using lavender and orange oils. Two hundred patients were assessed in a controlled condition while waiting for dental treatment. They were between the ages of 18 and 77 years, half of which were men and half women. The goal of having the ambient of the aromas of orange and lavender was to see the impact it had on their mood, calmness, anxiety, and alertness.
The statistical analyses revealed findings that both orange and lavender helped reduce stress and anxiety in dental patients.
2- A study done in Japan showed that patients who were undergoing minimally- invasive cosmetic dental procedures showed that the aroma of lavender and rosemary decreased their levels of cortisol. Cortisol is an important hormone in the body, secreted by the adrenal glands that help regulate blood pressure, release insulin for blood sugar maintenance, and support immune functions.
3- A Kings College in London had a similar study with the effects of lavender. One group of patients were given lavender oil to smell while waiting for dental treatments and another was given a placebo oil. The one with the lavender reported feeling less anxious and stressed, the one without reported that they still felt the same anxiety that they came in with.
Essential oils should not be confused with nice smelling candles, spices, potpourri, or air fresheners. There is a scientific use for essential oils that enhance your physical and psychological well-being. We use these oils for their calming effects to enhance the patient experience. We care about more than just our patients oral health, we care about each and everyone’s overall health and well-being. Essential oils are just a part of how we care for our patients, but an “essential” one indeed.