Why The Smell of Fear Is Hurting Your Dental Practice and How Scent for Business Can Make a Difference

Why The Smell of Fear Is Hurting Your Dental Practice and How Scent for Business Can Make a Difference

If you are a dentist or work in a dental office, you know that some of your patients are afraid of you.

In fact, studies show that some 20 percent of Americans are so anxious about coming to see you that they only make an appointment when necessary. And five to eight percent fear you so much that they avoid you altogether.

This fear and anxiety – known as ‘dental phobia’ – not only puts these Americans at risk of poor dental healthcare, but can also raise their risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes due to the spread of inflammation caused by conditions such as gingivitis.

Why are they afraid?

There are several reasons patients fear coming to the dentist:

  • Fear due to an unpleasant experience at the dentist – sometimes stemming from as far back as childhood;
  • A loss of control or even claustrophobia while lying prone in a dental chair;
  • Association of the sights, sounds and smells of a dental office with the procedures of having a cavity filled or a root canal performed.

What does smell have to do with fear?

Scientific studies have shown that the sense of smell is connected to the memory center of the brain (the limbic system), which can recognize thousands of scents, recalling both good and bad memories associated with them.

That’s good if the smell of natural gas is warning you of a dangerous leak, or if the stench of spoiled meat prevents you from eating it.

But for some people, the harmless smells associated with good dental health are associated with fear, anxiety and stress – leading them to avoid the dentist.

The three primary culprits that combine to cause ‘dental office scent’ are:

  • Dental products such as clove oil used in a variety of procedures.
  • Cleaning products such as antibacterial soap, disinfectant wipes and even latex gloves.
  • And dental procedure odors from fillings, crowns and root canals.

Interestingly enough, one study found that “clove oil invokes sensations of anxiety and fear in people who dislike the dentist while people who don’t mind the dentist think that clove oil smells ‘pleasant.’”

So what’s a dentist to do?

Many dentists are taking a page from other healthcare providers who are successfully using scent for business as a way to combat this fear and anxiety.

  • One Florida hospital imaging center uses a vanilla scent to help curb claustrophobia and tension, which has led to a decrease in the number of people who need sedation and a 50% drop in cancellations.
  • A study performed at the University Clinic of Neurology in the Medical University of Vienna, Austria tested the effects of inhaling essential oils while waiting for a dental procedure. Results revealed that the scent of orange and lavender reduced anxiety and improved mood in patients waiting for dental procedures.

Make Scent for Business Work For You

You’ve seen how ‘dental office scent’ can work against you. Why not make scent work for you?

Research shows that people are less likely to remember sights and sounds than smells, and that even after one year, most remember a smell along with details of the event.

What if patients walked into your practice and instead of smelling the familiar dental smell, experienced a scent that brought fond memories back?

You can do this through a new state-of-the-art scent distribution system that enables fragrances to be dispersed evenly and over large spaces. These cold-infusion scent distribution systems atomize essential oils, convert them into molecules and disperse them throughout the environment.

Thousands of scents and scent combinations are available through essential oils – scents that are scientifically proven to connect with the brain’s memory center and recall good memories.

Imagine fearful patients walking into your office and breathing in the calming scents of lavender and orange – or the relaxing scent of vanilla. It could make all the difference in their anxiety levels and help them to connect with pleasant memories that keep them calm both before and during the appointment.

Plus, scent is inexpensive and easy to install in your dental practice.

Scent: An Extra Edge

Fearful patients can make your job unpleasant at best, and difficult at worst. But scent can give you an extra edge, helping keep your patients calm and making your job as their doctor more pleasant as well.

The Aroma Impressions Advantage

If you’d like to reduce anxiety, stress and fear in your dental patients, in just a matter of days we can deliver:

  • Consistency of scent throughout your facility
  • Customization of scent that achieves specific objectives
  • A variety of scents within target zones


Let us send you free no-obligation samples of our most popular scents

Or call 800.492.9030 and let’s talk.

Sources; WebMD, dentaliq.com