Monday, May 01, 2006

Wow, it smells like a dental office in here!

Have you ever entered a dental office and thought, “This sure smells funny in here”? There are certain smells common in most dental offices that are quite distinct. What is that scent? Well, as best I can determine there are three things that are quite distinctively dental scents. First is Acrylic monomer. That is the volatile liquid building blocks that make up plastic like materials in dentures and retainers. When a retainer is adjusted by grinding the acrylic, you usually pick up a little of that scent. This is especially true when your retainer is brand new. There is a smell more often found in pediatric offices called Formocresol, a preservative that is used in a procedure called a pulpotomy.
Finally there is Eugenol, or oil of cloves. It is used in temporary filling materials. It actually smells quite good as cloves are usually pleasant. Many years ago there were several other things as well, but as science advances the scents are becoming more pleasant and less noticeable. Now you are just as likely to smell the PiƱa-Colada scented topical anesthetic, the Strawberry scented nitrous oxide nosepiece (Mr. Nose), or the Cookie Dough flavored prophylaxis paste. Hopefully, those are the pleasant scents your children will remember most.

7 comments:

Deanna said...

Is it odd that I enjoy the smell of formocresol? I have come to the conclusion that the lingering smell of formocresol is definetly the cause of the common "dentist office smell". But that's beside the point...do you use any sort of handout to describe clinical findings and tx. recommendations? I think your blog is absolutley fantastic.

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

Funny, I was just talking with one of my partners about how stinky "formo" is. If I ever do an OR case it seems to stay with you for a while throughout the day.

Yes, when we propose treatment, we write out an estimate split into appropriate appointments and showing estimated insurance coverage and the like. This is mainly for financial information. Also, with more complex procedures like sedation, we give out informed consent forms and instructions, etc.

Deanna said...

Haha..it's fantastic the way formo can linger for hours on end. I am trying to come up with a general handout for parents regarding clinical findings. Something they can review with a spouse or look over as a memory refresher for large tx. cases. They always go home with a pre-tx estimate. Something such as: #A needs a compostie resin restoration (followed by an explanation of a CR), etiology of decay, and maybe an explanation of the need for quadrant dentistry. Do you use anything like that?

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

No, just what I mentioned, at least not yet.

anti aging said...

Funny. That's why all dental offices have the same smell... Lol!

Anonymous said...

Is there any way to get rid of that smell of formo? I spilled half a bottle in one of the operatories and it has been such a stron smell for over a week. We need it gone and nothing has helped!!!

Dr. Dean Brandon said...

Ha! That happened to us several years ago. It smelled like formo for a few months. Sorry, I don't remember exactly what we did, but nothing much helped. Eliminate any surface that is replaceable, clean the others, but basically, wait, the formo has to evaporate over time.