We've always heard that certain animals can smell fear, but what about your dentist? And what if that fear or anxiety dentists can sense made them more prone to making mistakes while working on your teeth?
"The finding is the first real-world evidence that chemical signals hidden in our body odor can betray our emotions and influence the behaviors of those around us," says Valentina ParmaValentina Parma from the International School for Advanced Studies in Italy.
To conduct the experiment, Parma's team had 24 dental students donate two of their shirts. One was worn during a stressful lecture and the other was worn during a calm lecture.
The shirts were then treated to hide body odor and another team of students preformed dental procedures on the mannequins wearing the clothes. Students who worked on the mannequins with the stressed T-shirts performed worse, making more mistakes that could damage a person's teeth.
Parma adds that she "does not yet know if fully-trained dentists are as affected by patient anxiety as students are, but hopes training medical professionals to be aware of potential biases might improve patient care."