Many people experience dental-related anxiety, and children are not immune. With the masks, gloves, and metal tools prodding their mouths, you can’t blame kids for being a little nervous. That’s why our pediatric practice in Mt. Pleasant incorporates aromatherapy with essential oils in order to promote a comfortable, stress-free experience.
Aromatherapy utilizes essential oils for their psychological and physiological benefits. Similar to how many other medicines are obtained, concentrated oils are distilled from petals, peels, and plants for a pure, natural product.
If a particular scent has ever triggered memories for you, then you’ll understand. Orange and lavender essential oils tend to calm us, sage can make us feel upbeat, and pine just might make you feel energized and focused.
Different extracts have different benefits, but they are usually applied the same way. Our practice uses a sonic cold water diffuser that emits a very fine mist of essential oil particles into the air. When inhaled, the molecules from the oil bind to olfactory receptors. The perception of the scent influences the limbic system, the areas where hormone levels and emotions are controlled.
We’ve found the use of aromatherapy in our pediatric dental practice to have a positive effect on the moods and anxiety levels of our little patients.
Aromatherapy Reduces Anxiety in Children
We don’t need to only trust in our experience to see a benefit in aromatherapy. Much of the positive effects of the practice are because our experiences and memories determine our emotional reactions to scents. This can play a role in positively affecting mood and anxiety levels, as demonstrated by a study published in Advanced Biomedical Research in 2013.
The researchers used salivary cortisol (a hormone produced when we are stressed) and pulse rate as measures to evaluate the anxiety levels of their test subjects, a large group of children aged six to nine years. The subjects were scheduled for two dental appointments to receive sealants on molars, a painless and non-invasive procedure.
The children were randomly assigned to receive aromatherapy treatment alongside the application of their sealants during either their first or second appointment. One group would have aromatherapy during their first appointment (but not the second), while the other group would utilize it during their second appointment (but not the first).
The study utilized natural orange essential oil from limonene, which was applied to the treatment area through a hidden diffuser and fan. As an additional control, non-aromatherapy treatments utilized water with the same method of application.
The results of this study clearly showed a significant decrease in salivary cortisol levels and pulse rates when the aromatherapy with orange essential oil was used during procedures, consistent with the results of many other studies.
Dr. Randy—The Kid-Friendly Dentist in Mount Pleasant
When new Mount Pleasant families visit our practice for the first time, one of the first reactions is that it doesn’t feel like a dentist’s office. Rather than feeling clinical, we aim to provide an atmosphere that is warm and child-friendly. If aromatherapy can help our patients feel more relaxed and maintain a positive mindset, that’s a tool we want to use.
Want to learn more about arompatherapy? Have questions for Dr. Randy and our team? Give our Mount Pleasant pediatric dental practice a call and we’ll be happy to help!