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The scent of lavender could be one way for dentists to calm nervous patients and enhance their dental care experience, researchers have suggested.
A team at King's College London studied a group of 340 adults as they anticipated their scheduled dental appointment in a waiting room. One group was exposed to a lavender scent while another was not.
In an interview, subjects in the group that had smelled lavender were found to be less anxious than their counterparts, regardless of what type of procedure they were anticipating.
Metaxia Kritsidima, the study leader, said the findings suggest that "lavender could certainly be used as an effective on-the-spot anxiety reduction in dentists' waiting rooms."
However, the researchers concluded that the scent - while useful for dealing with the immediate appointment - had no effect on the patients' level of anxiety in terms of future dental procedures.
Kritsidima explained that the team chose to study anxiety and tension in this setting because they recognized how patients' state of mind can affect the quality of their dental care.
Lavender has long been used in aromatherapy, to help treat conditions such as stress and insomnia.
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