The dentist office – or any physician’s office – can conjure extreme anxiety in patients. Thirteen to twenty-four percent of people around the world experience it one time or another according to Anna MacDonald, Harvard Health Blog contributor.
So how do you control the fear? Well, according to experts, music is one of the easiest ways to calm a patient’s nerves in the waiting room or the dental chair. A website dedicated to dental phobia called DentalFearCentral.org says music therapy has been mentioned in dental manuals starting in 1995. Kayla C. Daly, MA, MT-BC, LMHC of Music Therapy Services of Worcester, talks about the physical effects of soothing tunes:
Recent research through evidence based methods like neural imaging, MRI’s, blood pressure, respiratory and heart rate monitors, are able to show the calming effects that music has on a patient. We tend to see a decrease in blood pressure, muscle tension, and heart rate in a matter of minutes. However the significance of the style of music and whether or not it is familiar or unfamiliar to the patient make outcomes challenging to standardize due to the subjectivity (preferences) of the methods (music listening).
While each individual’s musical tastes are as individual as their dental records, experts recommend easy-listening genres that are enjoyed across a span of demographics and less polarizing than hard rock or pop music. Music from the Beatles, for example, is well-known and enjoyed by many generations.
Dentists can choose to filter music through their offices from a radio, personal CD list, iPod, or paid music services. We just recommend turning the volume low in case one of these songs “sneaks” into the playlist:
1) Everybody Hurts R.E.M
2) I’ll Be Your Dentist Little Shop of Horrors
3) Do You Really Want To Hurt Me Culture Club
4) (Anesthesia) Pulling Teeth Metallica
5) Ice Ice Baby Vanilla Ice
Don’t forget, music is great, but laughter is the best medicine!