Music in the Dental Surgery

Jun 1, 2019

We all love a good tune. A great song gets our feet tapping, our head banging, or our voice humming. But music’s power extends beyond just enjoyment.

For decades, therapists have also used it as a means to help people’s mental processes, intelligence, emotional stability, and physical functionality. Music therapists have even reversed or treated early stages of diseases such as dementia and Parkinson’s with the help of music.

So why not utilise music while you’re sitting in the dental chair?

Tuning Up

Research has proven that listening to the right music has a profound effect on human brain waves. It can distract and divert attention away from stressful stimuli (like a dental drill) by blocking unpleasant environmental sounds. Music can also promote feelings of physical and mental refocusing the mind on pleasurable emotional states.

Certain types of music can decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and slow breathing. And it doesn’t have to necessarily be the zen tracks you hear at massage parlours either. To be effective, the music should be your choice, what you enjoy, and just loud enough to drown out most of the surgery sounds without blasting in your ears.

If you don’t enjoy traditionally calming music, like classical symphonies, jazz, or minimalist tracks, and you put it on, your body will still probably react in a distressed/agitated way, so it won’t help. It’s important that you choose music that you like and know.

Also, keep in mind that your body entrains to music. What does that mean? Well, your body has its own rhythms (your heart beat and rate of breathing, for example). So if you pick a really fast song, your body’s rhythms are going to entrain or follow that song’s rhythm. The slower the rhythm/beat, the more likely your body will calm into a relaxed state.

Surgical Suggestions

There are several ways you can incorporate music into your dental appointment. If your dentist plays the radio over the PA system of the surgery, you can request your favourite radio station and they’ll probably oblige your request (so long as it doesn’t disturb other patients).

You can also plug in your earphones and play music from your phone or iPod. Just remember to adjust the volume so it’s not blasting in your ears for the hour or two you’re in the dental chair. Long-term exposure to high volumes will ruin your hearing. If you’ve got wireless headphones, even better – that way, your dentist won’t be concerned about accidentally pulling your earphones off.