Music is one of the most powerful means of expression available to human beings and is a constant presence in our daily lives, from the alarm clock to the car radio that accompanies us on short or long journeys, from waiting on the telephone to church bells or the background music in supermarkets.
The effect of music on the human mind has been known since ancient times, when it was used to accompany religious rituals and social occasions, but also as a true therapy.
In fact, music has the power to influence well-being and mood, as it allows the release of dopamine in the brain, thus influencing heart rate, breathing and the release of endorphins.
In short, music is not just the soundtrack of our days, but a real therapeutic tool.
The potential of music to influence the human brain at a neurobiological level has been, and continues to be, the subject of much research.
Many studies confirm the power of music on our bodies. Music facilitates social interactions, improves productivity and learning, and helps stimulate intellectual abilities.
It has been shown that the study of music in childhood has a strengthening effect on the skills that underpin language acquisition and also creates a ‘cognitive reserve’ that can be drawn upon in adulthood, with benefits that last into old age.
The benefits of music are innumerable, not only a “playful moment” in our daily lives, but also an important support for our well-being.
Here are some important positive effects associated with music:
Therefore, even in the case of commercial or service activities, the inclusion of appropriate background music can significantly improve the state of mind of customers and users, with a positive impact on business.
The frequency of 432 Hz, also known as the ‘Schumann Resonance’, is a group of peaks in the extremely low frequency part of the Earth’s electromagnetic field that create a positive standing wave of energy that builds up over time.
According to some researchers and music lovers, songs tuned to 432 Hz would be in tune with the Earth’s resonance frequency, the fundamental value to which all living things have been subjected since the beginning of time, and therefore in tune with the natural rhythms of the body and the universe.
Studies have shown that brain waves follow this frequency when falling asleep or in a state of deep relaxation; it is therefore possible that listening to music at 432 Hz may have a positive effect on psychological well-being and relaxation.
In 2020, for the first time in the world, in Italy, at the “Salesi” hospital in Ancona, an acoustic piano tuned to 432 Hz was played in the operating theatre during a delicate surgical operation on a paediatric patient, with the effects recorded live on the child’s encephalogram.
In general, music that promotes relaxation has some common characteristics, such as a slow and steady rhythm, the consistency of which can help slow the heart rate and reduce stress and anxiety.
The sweet and relaxing melodies can then stimulate the production of endorphins and serotonin, chemicals that help reduce tension and improve mood.
More specifically, the sounds of nature – such as the ocean, rain or wind – can have a calming and relaxing effect on the nervous system.
Finally, instrumental music, such as piano or flute, can help create a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.
On the other hand, high volume, a more intense rhythm and a higher pitch tend to excite the human body in response. For the same reason, a moderate volume, slow rhythm and medium to low pitch will facilitate relaxation.
When it comes to dental procedures, it should not be underestimated that these are events that can cause considerable anxiety, if not outright phobia, in patients.
Music can therefore play a positive role in creating an environment that can help people to feel more at ease when, for example, they have to go to the dentist. This applies not only to the treatment itself, but also to the moments leading up to it, helping patients to relax while waiting for a dental appointment.
Of course, the benefits of music for individual patients may vary in other situations, depending on the patient’s condition and sensitivity to sounds and different types of music, but in general it can be said that, at least for adult patients, the benefits of listening to certain types of music during dental treatment undoubtedly outweigh the disadvantages.
The case of children is different, as they are more influenced by the general environment, colours and other important factors we have discussed in this article. Children need more relevant stimuli to distract them, which is why some specialised clinics have monitors where children can watch their favourite cartoons during treatment.
It is also clear that, in addition to the type of music chosen, it is important to keep the volume at a level that does not disturb the patient, or the staff present in the surgery. A level that is not too intrusive is also very important to maintain an easy and clear communication channel with the dentist and other staff, allowing patients to better manage their anxiety levels.
This is why, for example, providing patients with headphones to listen to music and isolate them from the environment, thereby masking some of the most feared sounds, such as the dental turbine, could prove counterproductive: not being able to hear the dentist’s explanations and comments could increase the sense of loss of control over what is happening, increasing fear and anxiety.
In short, among the many elements that can help improve the patient’s experience in the dental environment, music is certainly an important tool that should be used and considered in all its aspects.
The use of music therapy has ancient roots, dating back to the classical world and the Middle Ages. Pythagoras, the 6th century Greek philosopher considered to be the founder of music therapy, was a firm believer in the positive effects of music on the body and mind.
Music therapy is the discipline that involves the use of music, sound, rhythm and movement to facilitate and encourage the achievement of set goals, such as education, rehabilitation or the management of pathological conditions.
In the dental field, research and specific scientific studies have been carried out to evaluate the specific effects of music on patients undergoing treatment, and although there are undoubted and verifiable relaxing effects (on blood pressure, heart rate and body temperature) exerted by music listened to during treatment, a detectable state of anxiety persists in all subjects, regardless of the fact of listening to music, and this seems to constitute the limit of music therapy used in this specific context.
In short, the right background music improves the day and makes a dental practice a more welcoming place, but science tells us that for now, to avoid pain, good sedation… is still the best option!