Music with patients

Hello, I’m Dr.Shaila Patel-Buxton, I’m a holistic dentist and I have a special interest in the care of nervous, anxious and phobic dental patients.

So, today I’m going to talk to you about music, hence the headphones are out today. I really love music and I love listening to music when I’m working in the dental surgery and in the dental environment. I love soul classics so you might hear them in the background. I love to play easy listening music and sometimes we’ll make a playlist up -making sure that the music has quite a relaxing tempo. We can also adjust the music for patients so if someone really likes classical music, we could play that for example.

It’s really well known that music is very helpful in patients who feel quite anxious about the treatment that they’re going to have. As I always play music in the dental surgery, and I started to notice that some patients who loved music themselves were connecting with the music, and that it was really helpful in patients who were quite sensitive to noise, as there’s lots of noise in the dental environment with the dental drills and all the suction equipment in the background.

Music is helpful for patients who are quite sensitive to noise or feeling really anxious about the treatment that they’re going to have. It helps people with mild to moderate anxiety but also sometimes really phobic patients as well.

The key thing if you’re the patient is that you listen to something that really lifts your spirits and you really enjoy listening to, it might remind you of some great times- it could be dance music or it could be any genre of music. e.g. Some people like listening to music from musicals, my husband loves the music from “Les Miserables”. It doesn’t matter also if it’s podcasts or audiobooks, I have patients who love funny audiobooks!

It’s really helpful if you play your favourite music or podcast on your device, either on your phone or a portable device and most people have got these simple headphones that generally come with the phone or you can pick up easily. So what I do is when I’m trying to make sure that the patient is comfortable, I’ll get them to put in one headphone and then when I’m sure that they’re comfortable, I’ll get them to put in the second headphone, and if they want to communicate with me they can wave, or stop me with a wave. If I want to get their attention, I will gently tap them on the shoulder so that way they don’t have to worry as we’re still in full communication. A lot of people have these wireless headphones which are brilliant , or if you’ve got some larger old-school headphones – I’ve got some old Sennheiser headphones here, you might just need to check in with your dentist and make sure they won’t interfere with your dental treatment at all, especially if they’re the larger noise cancelling headphones.

It’s really important to check in with your dentist, especially if you’ve never taken in music when having treatment before.

Now, the last point I want to make is that when you’re actually having the treatment done, try to actively listen to the music so you’re not distracted by all the different noises, sensations and vibrations that are happening in the dental surgery around you, and try to make sure you are paying attention to your favourite music, audiobook or podcast, so that you are using it as a way of distracting you from what’s going on around you. The more you can focus on what you’re listening to, the more helpful you’ll find it.

So, to recap the main points are:

  • that you take in some music on a phone or a portable device,

  • that you have some headphones with you, it’s great if you can take in your own headphones because we can’t reuse headphones if we provide disposable ones, and we don’t want to waste plastic so it’s much better if you’re taking your own headphones

  • the final point was to actively listen to the music or whatever it is that you’re listening to.

If you found these points helpful, I’d really appreciate your feedback otherwise until next time bye.