Are you using scent safely in your practice? Prettpal Somel, Marketing Executive, Initial Medical

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  Posted by: Dental Design      5th September 2018










The power of scent is something that every dental practice should utilise. Able to encourage patients to feel like they are in a clean and welcoming environment., scents have also been found to evoke memories[i]and impact our moods.[ii]This makes them the ideal way to help patients relax, especially those who may suffer from dental phobias and anxiety.

Despite these benefits fragrances can have significant downsides too, and as every patient is different it’s important to explore whether you are using scents safely in your practice in order to limit any potential repercussions that scenting products can cause.



There is currently thought to be at least 5.4 million people living with asthma in the UK. That equates to 1 in every 11 people, showing just how widespread the condition is.[iii]  Whilst the severity of an asthma attack varies depending on the situation, many of these attacks are potentially fatal and can severely impact the health of the individual involved. It is thought that in the UK, three people die each day as the result of an asthma attack, and in addition to this, someone is hospitalised due to the condition every 8 minutes.[iv]

Due to the gaseous nature and chemical ingredients found in some room fresheners, these products can act as a trigger for asthma sufferers.[v]Many scented products contain additives such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and people easily inhale these because they are in a vapour form. These vapours can exacerbate asthma symptoms and even bring on full asthma attacks, especially if the room is not well ventilated.

As asthma is such a widespread condition it’s important for practices to bear this in mind when choosing air fresheners – the general rule to follow is: the fewer VOCs present, the less likely they will be to aggravate the symptoms of any patients with asthma.


The further dangers of VOCs

As well as causing asthma attacks, VOCs have also been found to cause mild allergic reactions in some people or worsen any existing allergies. Some common VOCs are alcohols, esters, limonene, petroleum distillates and even formaldehyde. Whilst mostly introduced to add fragrance or help fresheners disperse scent in a gaseous form, some of these VOCs, especially formaldehyde, have been identified as carcinogenic.[vi]

Though formaldehyde may not be a very common VOC in air fresheners and other scented products, research has found that limonene (a widely used additive that provides a fresh, citrus scent) can quickly transform into formaldehyde when exposed to any ozone present in the air.[vii]

In addition to this danger, VOCs can cause other effects such as dizziness and headaches, as well as eye and respiratory tract irritation.[viii]Whilst not necessarily major problems on their own, these can make patients uncomfortable and unsettled in your practice – the exact opposite of how you want fragrance to make them feel.


Explore the available alternatives

The best way to cut down on the number of VOCs whilst still providing pleasant aromas for your patients is to explore other scented solutions. Houseplants and other indoor plant life have been found to absorb harmful VOCs including formaldehyde, when placed in an enclosed setting.[ix]However, although an attractive alternative, plants require maintenance in order to thrive and may even set off other allergy attacks among patients with hayfever.

Therefore, arguably the best way to scent a practice is to identify air fresheners that do not contain or which have a low level of VOCs. These products can help maintain a fresh and welcoming environment, whilst not putting patients at risk of allergens and any VOC related effects.

One such product is the Premium Scenting Cube from Initial Medical. Able to disperse pure fragrance without the addition of any VOCs, the desktop, cube shaped scenting device can be placed in waiting areas safely to ensure that patients feel relaxed and welcome as soon as they enter the premises. Available with a wide range of fragrances including calming scents such as lavender and homely fragrances such as freshly baked cookies, the device can help you create a welcoming environment without worrying about negatively impacting your patients who may have asthma or allergies.


Keep them comfortable

Using scent dispersing devices or products in your practice doesn’t have to come with downsides. By choosing scenting devices and products with minimal or no VOCs, you can refresh your practice and create a fragrant, inviting atmosphere without having any adverse effects on your patients.



For further information please visit Tel: 0870 850 4045



 About Initial Medical Waste Experts

Initial Medical is an expert in healthcare waste management, providing a complete collection, disposal and recycling service for hazardous and non-hazardous waste and offensive waste produced by businesses and organisations within the UK.


The safe management of healthcare waste is vital to ensure your activities are not a risk to human health.  Initial Medical’s healthcare waste services ensure that all of your waste is stringently handled in compliance with legislation and in accordance with Safe Management of Healthcare Waste best practice guidelines, providing you with the peace of mind that you are adhering to current legislation.


For further information please Tel: 0870 850 4045




[i]Fifth Sense. Psychology and Smell. Link: [Last accessed May 18].

[ii]Warrenburg, S. Effects of Fragrance on Emotions: Moods and Physiology. Chemical Senses. 2005; 30: i248–i249.

[iii]  Asthma UK. Asthma Facts and Statistics. Link: [Last accessed May 18].

[iv]Asthma UK. Asthma Facts and Statistics. Link: [Last accessed May 18].

[v]Asthma UK. Indoor Environments. Link: [Last accessed May 18].

[vi]BBC News. Is There a Danger From Scented Products? Link:[Last accessed May 18].

[vii]UK Cleaning Products Association. Cleansmart. Formaldehyde in Indoor Air. Link:[Last accessed May 18].

[viii]Time Magazine. Why Air fresheners Can Trigger Respiratory Problems. Link: [last accessed May 18].

[ix]Claudio, L., Planting Healthier Indoor Air. Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Oct; 119(10): a426–a427.

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