Smells are very powerful emotional triggers. This is because the olfactory bulb — where the cells in the nose send their signals — is in the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for basic emotions.
Unlike other senses, such as seeing or hearing, the higher thinking structures are bypassed, and the sensory information is fed straight to the emotional center of our brain. No wonder we react so severely and immediately to smells that we associate with scary things.
Your goal should be to get away from featuring that traditional “dental office smell.” Use things such as aromatherapy or essential oils to help relax your patients.