Dentists’ Use and Perspective of Essential Oil Aromatherapy as a Natural Anxiolytic in the Dental Office
Josephina Silva Lopes, Kissendrah Johnson, Richard Albenesius DMD
James B. Edwards College of Dental medicine, Class of 2018
OBJECTIVES: To analyze the current use of aromatherapy as a natural anxiolytic and to improve patient satisfaction in South Carolina dental practices.
BACKGROUND: Many disciplines throughout medicine have recognized the benefits of essential oils, such as therapeutic uses in oncology to reduce stress and anxiety of cancer patients through aromatherapy. There are various benefits of essential oils that can also be translated to the field of dentistry. Many of the most accessible essential oils are antimicrobial and antifungal, meaning they could be used in place of antibiotics, chlorhexidine, and other pharmaceuticals. A switch to natural agents could lead to less antibiotic resistance and other adverse effects. Several natural agents can decrease biofilm, kill halitosis-causing bacteria, and fight various fungal infections, including Candida.
METHODS: An online survey was sent to South Carolina dentists via the REDCap electronic survey service and the SCDA e-mail list. A two-page informational brochure was provided that discussed specific essential oils that could be used in the dental field, such as lavender, peppermint, and clove. Survey questions asking about the dentists’ previous knowledge about aromatherapy, if they have used aromatherapy in their personal life or practice, and how interested they would be in using aromatherapy in the future. The information provided consisted of evidence-based findings from multiple dental journal publications. Survey questions asked about previous knowledge about aromatherapy, experience using aromatherapy in personal life or practice, and level of interest in using aromatherapy in the future. Results were collected and analyzed using the REDCap system.
RESULTS: The survey yielded 42 responses from South Carolina dentists. 12% of the SCDA participants reported having used aromatherapy in their dental practice. The majority of participants (56%) reports having no past experience using aromatherapy privately or professionally. 62% of participants reported having very little previous knowledge about aromatherapy. 75% of survey respondents report some degree of interest in offering aromatherapy in their practice. All responses stated that no dental patients have previously inquired about aromatherapy in the office. Among dentists who expressed interest in aromatherapy, lavender and peppermint were the most popular scents.
CONCLUSIONS: The data provides a snapshot of current application of essential oil aromatherapy in South Carolina dental practices. We can conclude that essential oil aromatherapy is not widely used among surveyed dentists of the SCDA at this time. A few dentists who stated that they did not read the brochure also responded in a typed comment that they did not see any value of aromatherapy or that they thought it would only offer a placebo effect. Almost all participants reported that they had very little previous knowledge about the use of essential oils in dentistry. The lack of patient inquiries about aromatherapy could indicate that patients may not be aware that aromatherapy has dental benefits.