Being in Tune with Patient Comfort

How important is music in your dental office? In most offices I visit the staff usually don’t even notice the music because they are so used to it that they have tuned it out. They haven’t noticed that the music is loud and distracting, or causing your patients to be more nervous or agitated.

The purpose of having music in a dental office is to help to keep the patients, and the staff, calm and relaxed. I was in an office in Alberta and that was playing country music. When attempting to have a conversation with the doctor the song “Red Neck Woman” began to play which became so distracting that I asked the doctor if he liked this type of music and his reply was, “no, I hate it, but the staff likes it.” The doctor found the music irritating and distracting. As a dental patient, I would much prefer to be treated by a doctor who is calm and relaxed, so I suggested that he change the channel.

At a separate office, which was a pediatric clinic, they were playing rap music. One of the hygienists told me “the kids like it”. There is some rap music that contains lyrics that are violent and, in some cases, foul language and inappropriate subject matter.

Many studies have shown that patients who were listening to music during the dental treatment actually showed lower level of tension, better treatability and better adjustment to all kinds of treatment. Especially among patients with medium and high levels of anxiety music had a significant influence on their fear and comfort during the dental visit. Music had the biggest influence on better adjustment to dental treatment among patients with high and medium levels of anxiety. Studies have shown that 86% of patients report that waiting room music makes them feel more relaxed, while 75% go on to say that they feel both happier and less nervous with music playing.
Music has many relaxation benefits and by changing the moods it can have a positive influence on a dental patient. Research confirms that music bypasses your conscious mind and goes directly to and stimulates the part of the brain that controls your emotions and vital pulses such as the heart and respiratory rates, as well as blood pressure.
Having the right kind of music playing in your office can lead to additional benefits that will enhance the dentist-patient relationship as well, including:
• More compliant patients
• Improved communication between patient, dentist and staff
• Improved memory retention of treatment recommendations and patient instruction/education
• A more positive outlook of the dental practice as a whole by the patient, leading to a longer-term relationship.

The potentially positive effects the right music selections can have on your patients can’t be ignored. Music is subjective and everyone has different tastes, but the important thing to remember is that using music in your dental office is for the comfort of your patients, the doctor and the staff. Tune the world out and tune your patient’s comfort in.