what is that smell

You walk in the door, you inhale deeply, and you immediately know you’re in a dental office. Your nose tickles with the scent of incredible cleanliness, and may trigger a sense of fear or aversion for visiting the dentist. At my dental office in Glen Allen, we think explaining what exactly causes that dental office smell may help relieve a bit of that discomfort (at least we hope!).


Infection Control Products

All dental practices should practice strict sanitation and infection control procedures (we sure do!). Just like a hospital or physician’s office, your Glen Allen dentist also needs to ensure extreme cleanliness throughout the practice. The items used to keep tools sterilized, hands covered and clean, and chairs free of germs all have super-clean aromas. Gloves, antibacterial soaps, disinfectant wipes, extreme heat sanitation ovens, and the product used to sanitize tools that can’t be cleaned through heat all help contribute to the dental office smell.



Certain dental treatments can result is something commonly known as tooth dust. When getting a filling, a root canal, or crown, tooth dust is often released into the air. At a dental practice, where these procedures are quite common, the smell from a lot of tooth dust can linger around and contribute to that dental office scent. Dentists and their assistants can minimize the amount of tooth dust during a procedure by using a lot of water and a high-suction vacuum.


Dental Materials

Many of the materials used in dentistry have smells all their own. One specific, common material that’s used for constructing dentures and temporary crowns is acrylic, and it has a strong stench that also contributes to the smell of the dental office. Another high-smelling dental material is clove oil, which is typically used in dental fillings.


Now that you know some of the reasons behind the unique dental office smell, all of us at my Glen Allen dental office hope it makes visiting a dentist a bit more comforting. If we can help ease your concerns, please give us call. We’re here to help you get healthy while keeping you comfortable and relaxed.


Welcoming patients from Glen Allen, Richmond, Short Pump, and surrounding areas.