Author: Dental Fear Central
Written by the Dental Fear Central Web Team
Last updated on June 24, 2020

Music and noise-cancelling headphones

Music is one of the easiest distraction techniques to use. Many people appreciate having music playing in the background during dental treatment. Some dentists may offer noise-cancelling headphones, or you can bring your own music (on your phone or MP3 player) and headphones along. Many people do, and your dentist will be well used to it!

Photo of wireless earbuds

What type of music is best?

Some people feel that music used for distraction during dental appointments should be relaxing, but not everyone shares this view. You may like to be distracted by Heavy Metal for example! Choose whatever you think will work best for you.

Listening to music that has been specifically composed for relaxation can of course be helpful, for example during an injection (search for free apps in the App Store or on Google Play).

Are there any problems with using headphones as a distraction technique?

Some people find that using headphones can be an isolating experience. You are in your own world where your imagination can run wild and you can’t hear any of your dentist’s soothing words. For this reason, you may prefer it if the radio is playing in the background, or if your dentist hooks up your phone to a speaker system and plays your music. Some dentists also offer you a choice of music on their MP3 player. This way, everyone in the room can participate in it and you will feel less isolated.

Another option are earbuds – here is a great tip from our message board:

“I bring my earbuds and listen to music to distract myself. I’ve found that when I use them, procedures feel shorter and I have less memories of the procedure afterward. I still like to be present during the procedure to some extent so I always have one ear bud in and one out, so that I can hear the dentist/assistant talking to me.”

Which headphones are best for use in dental practices?

Wireless headphones are becoming very popular right now (no cables to get in the way). Examples include Bose QuietComfort 35 (super-comfy) and Beats by Dr. Dre Studio (less comfy but has volume control built into earpiece so you can quickly adjust the volume).

When using earphones, your dentist may want to thoroughly explain what they are going to do beforehand (including info about stop and coping signals), and lift up an earpiece when they want to tell you something.

From our message boards

I think the idea for using music is to distract your mind by giving you another stimulus to focus on and not so much to actually “drown out” the noises… I find that I am usually calmer when there is music on the radio at the office to distract my mind but it has more to do with attention not competition of sounds/volume.

I just had my first injection in over 20 years and I was in shock, I didnt even feel a poke! My secret was also I put headphones on and had my music blaring in my ear to distract me, believe me it worked…

I also asked if I could put my headphones in and listened to a podcast I like, boy did that help make the hour go quickly.

Enter our message boards to give and get support, and discuss anything dental phobia related!