Many people can identify a sterile environment by the smell, but that doesn’t always mean they always enjoy it. Since our brains are tricky little buggers, a sterile smell can trigger memories of painful times in places like a hospital or dental office. If you experience unhappy thoughts from the smell of your dental office, understanding the three most common sources of it may help you overcome your fear of it.
Many of the products used in dentistry can be pretty smelly. An example is acrylic, which is used to construct dentures. Another is eugenol—aka clove oil—that is used in most dental fillings. In fact, the smell of clove oil is one of the most common odors in dental offices. Disinfectants used during dental procedures can also give you that antiseptic whiff in a dental office. During certain procedures, bleach is used, which has a really strong smell.
Dental surgeons have to use a number of disinfectants and infection-control procedures that have strong smells. Examples of such products are antibacterial soaps, disinfection wipes, and even gloves. Sterilization of dental instruments as well as Glutaraldehyde, a chemical used to clean products that cannot be heat-sterilized, have also been found to generate an antiseptic smell.
Remember that smell you get when you are having your teeth drilled for a filling, crown, or root canal? Well, that is another smell common in dental offices. You may call it the smell of “tooth dust.” Doesn’t sound that comforting, right? Most dentists successfully reduce this smell by using lots of water during the procedure and having their dental assistants hold the suction as close to the tooth as possible.
So the next time you balk at visiting the dentist because of the smell, remember those odors are indeed good for you. And your teeth!