More and more dentists are recognizing the importance of providing a relaxing and safe environment for their patients. These can be successfully accomplished with the use of essential oils. The use in dental offices have been increasing, due to their aroma therapeutic power and their safe, natural healing powers.
Aromatherapy uses the olfactory system to affect memory, hormones and emotions. The use of aromatherapy in dental offices have been happening for some years now. Certain scents like lavender, have been used by dentists to create a calming, relaxing atmosphere for both patients and staff.
Essential oil aromatherapy has been shown to relax and calm patients with moderate to severe dental anxiety.
Essential oils have numerous dental benefits other than being used as aroma therapy. They are packed with regenerating, oxygenating, and immune-strengthening characteristics.
Effective antioxidants. Can help prevent fungus, mutations and oxidation of cells.
Are great sources of antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. The overabundance of synthetic antibiotics has made our bodies immune to a variety of microorganisms. However they can have an antibacterial effect that the microorganisms can’t resist and become immune to.
Reduce and limit the number of bacteria in the mouth. Going along with the previous point, the antibacterial properties of essential oils greatly cut down the number if unhealthy, dangerous bacteria in the mouth. This is the reason they are found in mouth washes.
Essential oils are great treatments for a variety of dental treatments. The most basic use of essential oil is oil pulling that patients can do at home. Swishing essential oils with coconut or olive oil for 5-20 minutes will clean the mouth and reduce the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
In the dental office, essential oils can be diffused into the air, creating a calming, relaxing atmosphere. Studies have shown that lavender oils have been proven to alter emotional states and mild anxiety, and reduces pain during a needle insertion. Orange oils has been shown to reduce the pulse rate in children and reduce salivary cortisol.
Topical application helps with better patient treatment. Cinnamon and clove oils block the production of plaque causing biofilm on the teeth. Clove oil also is an effective antifungal and antibacterial agent. The antibacterial properties of clove oil make it a good treatment option for dry tooth sockets, and tooth pain. Clove oil is also used to treat candidiasis. Eucalyptus oil has microbial properties that make it a great treatment option for sealers and solvents for root canal fillings.
Melaleuca (aka tea tree oil) is often used as an antifungal and antiseptic agent that is shown to have superb healing and disinfecting properties. The anti-fungal properties of melaleuca were studied by the Manipal College of Dental Sciences. This study compared melaleuca to Diflucan (prescription drug to treat candidiasis. The conclusion showed that the anti-fungal properties of melaleuca lasted a week longer than that of the Diflucan.
Clove oil is rich in calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium and vitamins A and C. Clove oil promotes healing and is used as a topical pain reliver. Researchers at Kuwait University conducted a study to see if clove oil could replace benzocaine as a topical anesthetic. The conclusion was that it could. This conclusion indicates that a natural, drug-free, less expensive treatment option is possible.
Lavender oil is popular for aromatherapy. It is also a good anti-inflammatory agent with antimicrobial properties. Researchers from King’s College in London found a reduction in the anxiety levels of patients with the use of lavender aromatherapy in dental offices.
Possible Use of Essential Oils in Dentistry
Following are the possible uses of essential oils in dentistry:
- Oral hygiene adjunct – Essential oil rinses are found to be equally effective in inhibiting plaque. A study carried out by Pizzo et al. on plaque inhibitory effect of amine fluoride/stannous fluoride and essential oils showed no significant difference in efficacy of both. As chlorhexidine causes staining of teeth on long term use, essential oils can be used as an alternative to chlorhexidine rinse. Essential oils have shown to possess antimicrobial activity against subgingival periopathogens too. However, a study done on efficacy of essential oil with and without presence of ethanol concluded that essential oils alone are not very effective.
- Anxiolytic – Aroma of lavender essential oils is capable of altering emotional states and reducing mild anxiety. It has been reported to be useful in reducing anxiety in dental patients when used in waiting area. It also reduce the pain of needle insertion. Use of aromatherapy with natural essential oil of orange has been shown to reduce salivary cortisol and pulse rate due to child anxiety state.
- Wound dressing – According to the study done by Budzynska et al., better therapeutic effects can be achieved from the wound dressings containing essential oils. Activity was found to be more when stored at 4oC for 7 days. Therefore, they can be used to achieve better healing after oral surgical procedures.
- In dental implants – Hence many essential oils have been shown to possess antibiofilm activity. They can be used with dental implants. Treatment of dental implant material surfaces with essential oils has shown to inhibit biofilm production.
- As preservative – Essentials oils showed higher inhibitory activity against tested microorganism strain than extracts and methylparaben. The study by Herman et al. suggest use of essential oils as substitute of methyl paraben in cosmetic emulsions. Similarly, it can be used to replace methylparaben, which is used as preservative in various dental products, especially in patients allergic to it. It can be used in LA allergy, but this requires further clinical trials to detect its efficacy as preservative and whether it can be injected in human body or not; as to the best of our knowledge until now any study has not been done in which essential oils are injected in human body.
All these are possible therapeutic benefits of essential oils, but there implication in day-to-day practice requires further research and clinical trials to rule out side-effects. If used properly they may prove very beneficial in dental treatments.
Ideas on How to Incorporate Essential Oils Into Your Office
- Relax a patient with a scented handkerchief. Placing a few drops of lavender onto a handkerchief instead of a patient’s dental bib will ensure that only the patient will feel experience its calming and relaxing effects, and not the dentist or hygienist.
- Use oils to make your own cleaning solution. Mix your favorite essential oil with baking soda, vinegar and borax. Use your cleaning solution to sanitize the bathroom, reception area, and patient treatment rooms. The solution also works well for cleaning mirrors.
- Make your own essential oils goodie bags. You can make individual sized tooth powders, mouth rinses, bath salts, lip moisturizer and lotion. You can give out identical bag of goodies or give out different bags to different patients based on their dental needs.
- Have homemade essential oil scented hand lotion or sanitizer on the reception desk. Both patients and your secretary will enjoy these.
- Freshen the air in the office that also helps with breathing. Patients with breathing problems, such as coughing from allergies, runny noses or nasal congestion can be harder to treat. Eucalyptus, for example, is a great aromatic essential oil that clears the sinus and lungs and allows for easier breathing.