A Calmer Trip to the Dentist
When you think of aromatherapy, you probably don't picture a candle warmer in your dentist's office. But a study conducted in 2008 by King's College London researchers explored that very possibility. Half of the 340 people studied were exposed to the scent given off by a candle warmer activating five drops of lavender oil in water while waiting for a dental appointment. The other half were not exposed to the lavender aromatherapy. The results? The anxiety level of those not exposed to lavender was significantly higher than those who smelled the scent. The results applied no matter what type of dental treatment people were awaiting -- whether it was for a routine dental cleaning or a visit involving something more anxiety-provoking such as a tooth filling.
Exposure to lavender had no effect on people's anxiety about future dental appointments. These findings suggest that lavender acts as an effective "on-the-spot" remedy to reduce anxiety while you wait for your dentist appointment, but it might not be enough to ward off the fear of future visits.
Some Safety Precautions
Use of lavender as aromatherapy is generally considered safe for most adults. (Lavender should not be used by pregnant or breast-feeding women.) Although side effects are rare, some people may develop an allergic reaction to lavender. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, headache and chills.
Because of the relaxing effects of lavender, the herb could potentially enhance the effects of central nervous system depressants. To be on the safe side, talk to your dentist about all the medications you take, including any vitamins, herbal supplements or conventional medications.
Your dentist is your best advocate when it comes to reducing dental anxiety. If you don't have one, we can help you find a pre-screened dentist in your area.