Dentist Uses Vinyl Records to Put Patients at Ease

January 4, 2017
Joe Hannan

An Illinois dentist has equipped his practice with a turntable and speakers, and allows patients to select the records they want to listen to while he works.

If music can soothe the savage beast, can it also soothe the anxious dental patient?

Dentists have been piping tunes into their practices for years, and many have incorporated TVs and other more advanced entertainment devices. But one Illinois-based dentist has taken a throwback approach to putting patients at ease with music — vinyl records.

The Southern Illinoisian reports that Dan Rangitsch, DMD, who owns a practice in Marion, Ill., has been putting patients at ease with a turntable attached to speakers and a subwoofer. He’s also allowed patients to peruse his collection of LPs to select the tunes they want to hear while he works. This, he says, beats the whirring of the drill or the gurgling of saliva suction.

“I don’t enjoy having my teeth worked on, and the sounds of it,” the Southern Illinoisian quotes him as saying. “So I try to make it as comfortable as possible.”

The news outlet reports that Dr. Rangitsch had been having mixed results with nitrous oxide, noticing that it affected some patients more than others. This caused him to eschew the sedative and instead gravitate toward music.

Dr. Rangitsch, the article notes, tries to keep a broad selection of records on hand to appeal to popular tastes. Though he grew up in Montana, he says that he prefers gangsta rap to the country and pop songs his patients and staff tend to listen to. But he prioritizes creating the best experience for them as possible.

Dr. Rangitsch’s approach for putting patients at ease appears to have merit. The American Psychological Association reports that a 2013 study in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences found that music “improves the body’s immune system function and reduces stress.” The same study also found that music can bring down anxiety levels prior to surgery.

The American Psychological Association notes a second study out of Singapore that found music therapy sessions reduced reported levels of persistent pain among patients. In this case, music therapists were brought in to coach patients in signing, playing instruments, discussing lyrics, and even writing songs. These things might be difficult during a dental exam, but the studies at least provide some food for thought.