Posted by Neelam Goswami on September 13, 2008

Do you have dental phobia? If yes, just smell Lavender scent before visiting your dentist. It will help you calm down your anxiety levels, suggests a new British study.

The novel study, presented at the British Psychological Society's health psychology conference at the University of Bath on 12 September 2008, suggests that a few whiffs of lavender, a very popular agent for its calming effect, can help ease a dental patient’s fears in no time.

"A substantial number of people avoid going to dental surgeries because they are scared of the dentist, which can have a significant impact on their dental health. The anxiety experienced by these patients once they get to the dentist is stressful not only for them, but also for the dental team,” said lead researcher Metaxia Kritsidima.

"Working under a state of increased tension may potentially compromise their performance, as well as lengthening appointment times,” she added. "This is why finding a way of reducing dental anxiety is really important."

Kritsidima and her colleagues from King's College, London reached their findings after measuring dental anxiety levels of 340 adult patients, who were waiting for a scheduled dental check-up.

Half of the study participants were exposed to the lavender scent given off by a candle warmer activating five drops of lavender oil in water during regular clinics over a four-week period, while the rest did not get to smell the scent.

After investigating the effects of lavender scent on patients’ dental anxiety, the researchers found that anxiety level of those exposed to lavender was 7.4 compared with 10.7 among those who did not smell the scent. However, the exposure to lavender did not show any effect on the patients' anxiety in thinking about future dental procedures.

"Our findings suggest that lavender could certainly be used as an effective 'on-the-spot' anxiety reduction in dentists' waiting rooms," said co-researcher Koula Asimakopoulou. "This is a significant difference and it was present regardless of the type of dental appointment."

Dental phobia may be defined as an extreme and persistent fear which results in the individual's avoidance of attending a dentist at all costs, unless the dental problem becomes overwhelming.

Dentist phobia is most commonly caused by previous bad experiences. While adults with dentist phobia realize that these fears are irrational, they often find that facing, or even thinking about facing the feared situation brings on a panic attack or severe anxiety.

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