Background music found to enhance dental students’ clinical competence

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Background music found to enhance dental students’ clinical competence

A recent study has investigated whether slow background music has an impact on dental students’ anxiety, satisfaction and performance during preclinical exercises. (Image: Vladimir Sukhachev/Shutterstock)

KUOPIO, Finland: In a recent study carried out at the University of Eastern Finland, researchers have investigated the effect of slow background music on dental students’ preclinical manual skills training. They found that background music can effectively reduce dental students’ stress and improve their motivation and performance during preclinical tooth preparation exercises.

Dental students often experience great stress during their studies, which may have serious repercussions on their mental health. Various studies have previously reported that music can have a positive impact on emotions and well-being. It has also been shown that background music can promote education and learning and can increase student satisfaction and productivity.

Adding to the existing literature, researchers from Finland examined whether background music can influence preclinical dental students’ anxiety levels or performance during preclinical practice. The study included 36 third-year dental students who filled in a questionnaire that measured their subjective evaluation of the effects of slow background music on the stress or anxiety levels experienced during a preclinical cariology course.

The data suggested that more than 50% of the dental undergraduates felt that slow background music helped to relieve stress while preparing the teeth, and 68% of the students thought it helped with stress reduction while doing cavity restorations. Students reported enhanced relaxation and reduced feelings of stress during complex procedures and higher levels of positive feelings when practising while listening to slow background music.

Additionally, 24 out of the 36 students participated in a cross-over study on the impact of slow background music on the quality of cavity preparation and on the time taken for this procedure. These students were split into two groups. The first group listened to background music such as classical, jazz or slow pop music while working, whereas the second group worked in the normal ambient noise of the simulation laboratory.

Using music for cavity preparation

For the purpose of the study, the researchers used a virtual reality haptic dental trainer and monitored the students’ basic manual skills. Using ImageJ software and macrophotographs of the prepared teeth, they also examined how slow background music can improve students’ cavity preparation performance during their preclinical simulation training.

The researchers found that the majority of the students were satisfied with listening to background music during practice. Music was found to reduce stress while increasing the motivation to learn and practise. According to the students, background music did not disrupt communication in the classroom. Additionally, it was found that background music enhanced the students’ use of time during cavity preparation and improved the quality of the procedure.

In line with the findings, the researchers believe that dental educators should be aware of students’ learning obstacles and take steps to improve their emotional well-being. To that end, the study has shown that playing soothing background music during preclinical training sessions might benefit students’ education. Finally, the researchers believe that music intervention could also be an effective tool to reduce stress in other dental education environments.

The study, titled “Influence of background music on stress reduction and impact on performances during students’ simulation exercises”, was published online on 9 May 2023 in the Journal of Dental Education, ahead of inclusion in an issue.

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