Aromatherapy in the Dental Office and Beyond

Jan. 1, 2004
I was getting ready for work the other day and was exhausted.

I was getting ready for work the other day and was exhausted. I used some shampoo by Aveda, which was scented with rosemary and mint, and was invigorated and awakened, as if I had been to the Espresso Bar. There must be something to aromatherapy and perhaps its place in dentistry, I thought as I finished my shower rejuvenated. I searched the Web for information about aromatherapy and found a wealth of information.

The National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy states on its Web site: "Aromatherapy can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize, and promote the health of body, mind, and spirit." It defines essential oils as "highly concentrated aromatic extracts that are distilled from a variety of aromatic plant material including grasses, leaves, flowers, needles and twigs, peel of fruit, wood, and roots."

If you have been considering using aromatherapy for your office, a good place to start might be the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA) Web site or a local spa shop. The NAHA site was very helpful. There is a listing of NAHA directors around the United States. My local favorite spa shop is EarthSavers. My friend, Avril, helped me gather information. Here are some of the Web sites and a book I found that were very interesting and valuable:

  • The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood

A few of the uses for aromatherapy in dentistry include the following:

To reduce ...

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Worry
  • Fear
  • Panic attacks

To induce ...

  • Relaxation

There are a variety of ways to use essential oils. The following methods suggested by EarthSavers Spa, from the Greater New Orleans area, might lend themselves to environmental therapy in a dental office setting:

  1. In the Diffuser: 6-10 drops of essential oil to water in the bowl or aroma diffuser
  2. For Potpourri: 25 drops to unscented dry flower mix (or a potpourri that has lost its scent)
  3. In the Home/Office: 7 drops added to 11/2 cups of water and sprayed throughout the house
  4. For an Unscented Candle: 6 drops added to the melted wax in the top of a candle

The NAHA Web site mentions specific methods of use of essential oils which could also be utilized in the dental setting. The following is an excerpt from their Web site (reprinted with permission).

  1. Aerial dispersion via electronic glass diffusers — Aerial dispersion is best utilized in short durations. Recommended time usage: 15 minutes every two hours. The ionized micro-droplets will stay suspended in the air. (Jan Kusmirek) Aerial dispersion or electronic diffusion is best used for respiratory ailments, environmental fragrancing, energy sedation or stimulation, emotional upsets, and to clean the air of bacteria and microbes.1
  2. Clay candle or electric pottery diffusers — This type of diffuser is useful in the treatment of emotional upsets or simply to provide a pleasant atmosphere. This is a very simple method of "environmental" fragrancing. This method of diffusion, however, lacks the medicinal value received by aerial dispersion. It is used to enhance and beautify the home or office. A variation on this theme includes the wide range of clay diffusers available in retail stores. Such diffusers include clay car diffusers, clay necklaces, glass necklaces, and small room clay diffusers. These are all useful in creating an aromatic environment as well as enhancing emotional well-being.1
  3. Water spray — Essential oil spritzer — Another fantastic way of utilizing essential oils is to make a water spray or a floral spritzer. In a 4-ounce container of water, place 10 to 15 drops of essential oils. Be sure to shake the contents before each use. A water spray can be used to fragrance a room and clean the air.1

Different uses were explained on the Web site. Wendy Robbins is the author and owner of that Web site, which is full of information and recipes for blends of the essential oils. She suggests the following essential oils for various purposes, which could be applicable in dentistry:

  • Anxiety — Bergamot, Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Geranium, Lavender, Mandarin, Neroli, Patchouli, Roman Chamomile, Rose, Sandalwood, Vetiver4
  • Fear — Bergamot, Cedarwood, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lemon, Neroli, Orange, Roman Chamomile, Sandalwood, Vetiver,4 as well as Rose and Pettigraine3 mentioned in the Valerie Ann Worwood book
  • Insecurity — Bergamot, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Jasmine, Sandalwood, Vetiver4
  • Panic and Panic Attacks — Frankincense, Helichrysum, Lavender, Neroli, Rose4
  • Stress — Benzoin, Bergamot, Clary Sage, Frankincense, Geranium, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lavender, Mandarin, Neroli, Patchouli, Roman Chamomile, Rose, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Ylang Ylang4

In The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, Valerie Ann Worwood breaks stress down into types and lists the most appropriate essential oils for those types of stresses.

  • Environmental Stress (bright lights in workspace, handpiece or other machinery noise, telephone, cramped workspace): Cedarwood, Coriander, Geranium, Cypress, Roman Chamomile, Basil, Bergamot3
  • Chemical Stress (too much coffee, junk food, aspirin or antibiotics, air pollution, or other inhalation factors): Lavender, Patchouli, Pettigraine, Geranium, Clary-Sage, Grapefruit, Lemon, Rosemary3
  • Physical Stress: Rosemary, Roman Chamomile, Marjoram, Lavender, Bergamot, Thyme, Geranium, Fennel3
  • Mental Stress: Geranium, Lavender, Sandalwood, Basil, Bergamot, Grapefruit, Cardamon, Patchouli3
  • Emotional Stress: Geranium, Sandalwood, Palma Rosa, Bergamot, Vetiver, Rose, Cardamon3

The NAHA Web site lists the top 10 essential oils. Here are five that seem to lend themselves nicely to our dental environment:

  • Roman Chamomile, Anthemus nobilis: Very relaxing, and can help with sleeplessness and anxiety. Also good for muscle aches and tension. Useful in treating wounds and infection.1
  • Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia: Relaxing, and also useful in treating wounds, burns, and skin care.1
  • Geranium, Pelargonium graveolens: Helps to balance hormones in women, good for balancing the skin. Can be both relaxing and uplifting, as well as an antidepressant.1
  • Clary Sage, Salvia sclarea: Natural painkiller, helpful in treating muscular aches and pains. Very relaxing, and can help with insomnia. Also very helpful in balancing hormones.1
  • Ylang Ylang, Cananga odorata: Helps one to relax, and can reduce muscle tension. Good antidepressant.1

EarthSavers lists some essential oils that may have side effects in pregnancy and should not be used in an aromatherapy diffuser or applied to the skin. There are also some oils that are considered toxic to pregnant women in the first trimester, and then are considered safe thereafter. This list is not meant to be comprehensive, and oils should be researched prior to use.

Side Effects During Pregnancy2 (no diffuser use nor applied to skin)

  • Clary Sage
  • Eucalyptus
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Grapefruit

Toxic to Pregnant Women in the First Trimester2 (considered safe thereafter)

  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary

I had a great time researching this information about aromatherapy, and I found out that there is a lot to learn on the subject. I also had fun exploring in New Orleans during a surprise overnight stay that my husband arranged to celebrate our anniversary. We sniffed and sampled many different scents in the EarthSavers Relaxation and Spa Shop. If you do intend to utilize aromatherapy with essential oils in your office or home, take a little time to investigate the desired effect you wish and make sure it is compatible with your circumstances. Please do look into the fabulous resources that were so useful to me.

And most of all, have fun and relax!


  1. with special thanks to Teshan Laucirica, the NAHA administrator, along with Linda Jean Malbouef, NAHA Director, Louisiana.
  2. EarthSavers Relaxation Spa and Store with special thanks to Avril Lewis from Mandeville, La., who brought me the information and book.
  3. Worwood, Valerie Ann, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, New World Library, Novato, Calif., 1991, pp. 84-87.
  4. with special thanks to the owner and author, Wendy Robbins.