Background music reduced dental students’ stress and improved their performance

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background music dental training
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In a pilot study carried out in Finland, the use of background music was found to reduce dental students’ stress and improve their performance during preclinical tooth preparation exercises. 

The results were published in the Journal of Dental Education

We hear music almost everywhere we go. Research on music in various environments has supported its positive effects on emotions and wellbeing. Evidence also suggests that background music can foster education and learning and has the potential to increase student satisfaction and productivity. However, data on whether background music has an influence on the anxiety levels of preclinical dental students during practice, or whether it alters their performance, is scarce to non-existent.

The acquisition of manual skills and procedural competence is of vital importance in preclinical dental training. Even basic dental skills, such as tooth preparation and polishing, can become difficult in the cognitively demanding new environments where the undergraduates must learn how to triage and act.

The present prospective cross-sectional pilot study by a team at the University of Eastern Finland compared the performance of 36 young dental students on a cariology course during phantom head training exercises in a simulation laboratory without background music or listening to quiet, low-tempo background music. The objective was to determine if music has an impact on dental students’ anxiety, satisfaction, and performance during the exercises. The students’ perceptions were surveyed, and quantitative, computer-aided measurements were taken to analyse their performance.

The students’ overall satisfaction with the background music was high. Music was found to reduce stress while also increasing the motivation to learn and practice. Communication in the classroom was smooth despite the background music, and the students’ use of time and quality of cavity preparation was enhanced.

According to the researchers, this pilot study lends support to the use of background music in preclinical cariology training, as it appeared to have helpful effects on dental skills education and practice. This music intervention could also be extended to other stressful dental education environments.

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