Bring your headphones: The impact of music on health

The proof of using music therapy to stimulate feelings of calmness lies in how I sat down to write this article. It was finals week, and I needed to focus so I put on John Mayer radio on Pandora and got to writing. Whether I am getting ready for a long day of seeing patients, a fun night out on the town or a coffee-filled morning of studying, I tune in to different music stations. Music can impact our mood.

The idea of using Pandora and Spotify as a therapeutic tool for patients is simple and, essentially, without consequences. Most health care waiting rooms play music. In fact, the first time I went to my dentist, he was playing Backstreet Boys radio, and I would be lying if I said it didn’t make me more inclined to like him. With an inexpensive and personalized therapy that can be confidentially delivered through headphones, dentists can use a new intervention for anxious patients. Music decreases stress and anxiety, and thus decreases activation of the sympathetic nervous system. It can be beneficial preoperatively, when anxiety tends to be the highest. By asking patients to bring headphones and use their own smartphone or an in-office tablet, they can be transported away from the triggers of high-pitched suction and noisy handpieces.

In a 2017 case-control study published in the Indian Journal of Multidisciplinary Dentistry, “Influence of music therapy to reduce anxiety during dental procedures in the Department of Prosthodontics,” dental patients receiving fixed partial dentures were asked to rate their anxiety during different stages of the appointment: the day before the appointment, sitting in the waiting room, sitting in the chair before treatment and after impression making. Patients were generally most anxious just before treatment. The control group without music had 50 percent highly anxious patients, while the music group only had high anxiety in 34.5 percent of the patients. These statistically significant results were also seen in the dentist’s rating of patient’s behavior and treatability.

Finish reading this article in the March issue of Contour magazine.

~Casey Rhines, Detroit Mercy ’20, Chapter Wellness Chair

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Dr. Casey Rhines

Dr. Casey Rhines, Detroit Mercy '20, previously served as the wellness chair for her ASDA chapter as well as an ASDA contributing editor. She loves coffee and Cabernets, yoga and traveling, and anything that gets her outdoors.

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