If the whirr of a dentist's drill sends shivers down your spine, you are not alone. The fear of pain is the main reason why many people hate dental visits. A dentist-patient association overly characterised by serious patient anxiety can result in misdiagnosis as well as unsuitable treatment. So what can dentists do to reduce dental fear in their patients? Well, by playing soothing music before, during and after the dental procedure, the entire experience can feel less hurting to patients. This article offers insights into how a dose of music actually works as a pain relief in dental procedures.
How the human brain processes pain and music
Say you step bare foot on a sharp object, electrochemical signals are sent from the injury site to the spinal cord as well as the brain. Ultimately, it results in the conscious sensation of, 'Ouch, that hurts!' In comparison, when a dental patient listens to soothing music, there's increased activity in sections of the brain's reward hub. Basically, pleasant music prompts the release of a brain chemical known as dopamine. Dopamine makes the patient feel good which ultimately reduces the dental pain they might be experiencing. Music has the ability to inhibit pain signals at the spinal cord level and before reaching the brain.
The ability of music to alleviate dental pain also originates from its capacity to capture one's attention. Because the dental patient is actively engaged in the music, then there's minimal time spent on thinking about dental pain, which means they actually experience less pain. First, the dental patient tends to shut their eyes when listening to the soothing audio presentation, thus avoiding seeing the dental procedure. Second, the musical sound will muffle any nasty dental sounds, such as the hand piece.
Additionally, the more pleasant or soothing the music is, the more it influences a patient's sensitivity of dental pain or anxiety. Despite the fact that musical taste is personal, a number of common musical aspects elicit somewhat universal responses. For example, many people consider musical consonance to be enjoyable while dissonance or clashing harmonies to be weary. Thus, dental patients who listen to pleasant music excerpts will report minimal pain.
In conclusion, music therapy has a major role to play in the alleviation of anxiety in dental patients. Dentists should have audio players in their dental offices with a soothing playlist in order to implement music therapy during dental treatment procedures.