When you enter a day spa or a dentist’s office, chances are you will hear the same type of music, although the services offered couldn’t be more opposite. That is because research has proven that slow music harbours the ability to slow our heartbeats, our breathing rates and our blood pressure, making us more relaxed (O’Donnell).
How does it work?
This works because classical music releases neurons in our brains, which aid in relaxing. Music acts as information which reaches the human brain in impulses (Olszewska and Zarow). Music can change brainwaves and because of this, it can be used to alter people’s moods. When we listen to music we respond most to the rhythm, which organises physical movements. For example, this is one of the reasons why we dance when we listen to music.
Since our body already functions in the time with rhythm — heartbeats, breathing — we subconsciously relate to rhythm. Since we already establish connections to rhythm before we are aware, it is easy for our moods to be influenced by rhythms. For instance, if the rhythm of a song is fast, we are often happy, if it is methodical, we are calm; hence the use of music in the dentist’s office.
Music at the dentist’s office is especially important because it alerts brain chemistry, which positively influences the patient by making it easier to concentrate and by allowing the patient to possess more patience for the procedure (Olszewska and Zarow).
The evidence behind the madness
Dentists Iwona Oslzewska and Maciej Zarow conducted a series of experiments in which they performed dental work on patients, some of whom listened to music during the procedure and some of whom did not. The results of the experiments, as reported by Olszewska and Zarow were that 79 percent of all patients who listened to music with average anxiety thresholds during the procedures showed a lower level of tension and were better suited for treatment.
The problem of dental anxiety
Dental anxiety is one of the leading factors contributing to why people do not visit the dentist as regularly as they should. Dentists use a variety of methods, technologies and treatments to combat dental anxiety and to make your visit more enjoyable. Choosing easy-listening, soothing music is one of the methods employed by dentists to ensure that patients are comfortable, at ease and are relaxed before treatment begins.
In addition to strategically-chosen music, dental visits which previously evoked anxiety and fear can be kerbed through the use of lavender essential essences, dentists explaining the procedure in detail before work begins, sedation dentistry and by having work performed at dental spas instead of dental offices.
Sedation dentistry employs the use of sedatives and pain relievers to ease the patients and to dull the routine stress of dentist visits. Conscious sedation relaxes the patient while allowing you to continue carrying on conversations with the dentist and to respond to outside stimuli (1800 Dentist).
Dental spas are standard dental facilities in which spa treatments are performed alongside dental services. Massages, reflexology, refreshments and other amenities are often offered at dental spas before, during and after treatment. In addition, dental spas often decorate the treatment area in such a way as to relax the patient. Walls are painted in warming colours just as you would find in a spa. Dental spas intend to make patients feel more relaxed and comfortable in the created environment.
However, if you prefer a less extravagant dental experience but one that remains enjoyable, you can speak with your dentist about bringing along an MP3 player and listening to your favourite music during your procedure. Your dentist will most likely be open to this method as it will relax you and ensure a prompt procedure.