The Sweet Sounds of a Healthy Smile: Music and Dentistry, Part I

dentist in portland orThis month we’re turning to teeth… and music. In this first of two music-related posts, the team at Burlingame Dental Arts would like to recognize the talented musician in our midst: Dr. Kierkegaarde, AKA Dr. Noodle of the band Mental Hygiene, and examine not only the brilliant musical minds that become snagged by the beauty and mystery of oral health, but how music itself plays a role in dentistry today.

Singing through their teeth

Chompers have long been a muse for musicians, from the band Teeth (of fleeting mid-nineties fame), to cult favorite melodies like Little Shop of Horrors Dentist song (do not be alarmed –  Steve Martin is not a real dentist!).

Our own Dr. Kierkegaarde may be the quietly talented dental professional by day, but after hours– she is a rocker. Yearning to shred on an electric guitar her whole life, Dr. Kierkegaarde made this dream a reality when she picked up the guitar in 2007 and joined the all-female band Mental Hygiene (come see the good doctor rock out at Mississippi Pizza August 24th!).

There’s more to music than meets the eye

The role of music in dental health is a subject that has been explored for decades. As early as August 13, 1901, the New York Times published an article describing a Parisian dentist who was using music to sooth his patients during dental procedures. In these pre-iPod days, the dentist inserted “the tube ends” of a phonograph into the patient’s ears. According to the article, when given musical accompaniment to painful procedures the patient showed “none of the customary signs of mental distress and [awoke] from his trance with agreeable impressions of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Wagner, or Chopan, as may be. ”

More than a century later, dentists are still experimenting with music. Dental surgeon Dhanni Gustiana of Central Java, came up with a creative way to incorporate music: a song-playing drill. The modified dentist’s drill can play music via MP3s, so patients can even listen to their own when they are in the chair! More trials are still underway to pinpoint the exact benefits of music on patient comfort during dental procedures; recent research from the British Dental Association on patients undergoing root canals found that “music may reduce anxiety during invasive procedures in adolescents and adults.”

What music relaxes you?

Let us know next time you’re in the office! And don’t forget to ask Dr. Kierkegaarde to autograph your toothbrush!

Up next… Music and Dentistry Part ll: Bone Conduction

Photo Credit: rbat75 via Compfight cc

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