The study, “Effect of aromatherapy with orange essential oil on salivary cortisol and pulse rate in children during dental treatment: A randomized controlled clinical trial,” involved 30 children between the ages of 6 and 9. These subjects were scheduled for two dental appointments to receive fissure-sealant therapy on two permanent molars.
The children were randomly assigned to receive either their first or second dental treatment with the use of aromatherapy. One group received the aromatherapy intervention during the first appointment and no aromatherapy intervention during the second appointment. The other group received no aromatherapy during the first appointment, but received the aromatherapy intervention during the second appointment.
The first dental appointment for all participants took place between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. The second dental appointment for all participants took place at the same time the following week. These appointments consisted of the child’s tooth being cleaned with a low-speed dental handpiece, followed by the performance of fissure-sealant therapy for one of the permanent first molars.
Before and after each of the two appointments, a nurse measured the child’s pulse rate and collected his or her saliva. For this study, salivary cortisol levels and pulse rates were the primary outcome measures used to evaluate anxiety during the dental appointments.
For the aromatherapy intervention, researchers used natural orange essential oil, which consisted mainly of limonene. An aroma diffuser was used to create a stream of air, directed by a fan, to diffuse the essential oil into the dental treatment room. The diffuser was out of sight of the children, and it was set to diffuse the essential oils into the room for two minutes every 10 minutes.
Results of the research revealed the subjects’ salivary cortisol levels and pulse rates decreased significantly when the aromatherapy with orange essential oil was used during the dental treatment.
“Assessing the influence of aromatherapy on more complex and fearful dental procedures, including injection of local anesthesia and drilling, is recommended in future studies,” state the study’s authors.
Authors: Mahdi Jaafarzadeh, Soroor Arman and Fatemeh Farahbakhsh Pour.
Sources: Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Torabinezad Dental Research Center, School of Dentistry, Behavioral Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran. Originally published online March 6, 2013, in Advanced Biomedical Research.
This research report ran in the print edition of MASSAGE Magazine‘s October 2013 issue.