Patient anxiety is an ever-present problem in dental practices. It makes treatment more challenging and prevents your patients from seeking the care they should. Luckily, soothing music can have a profound impact on patient anxiety. Here are some tips for curating a list of dental office music that can help distract patients and put them in a better space for treatment.

Camera set up for dental photography
Choice in dental office music can impact patient anxiety.

Tips for Creating the Perfect Dental Office Music Playlist

The first thing to consider when curating a dental office music playlist is the difference between the chair side and the waiting room. There are different vibes for both. The waiting room is the busiest but less anxiety-inducing for most patients. Dental waiting room music can be peppier and aimed at general audiences. Chairside music may be slower and focused on relaxation.

Here are some tips for handling both.

  • Choose soothing and instrumental music: Instrumental music, such as classical, jazz, or acoustic melodies, tends to work exceptionally well in dental offices. The absence of lyrics prevents distractions and helps patients maintain a sense of calmness during procedures. It also helps you avoid issues with explicit or vulgar lyrics being played unexpectedly.
  • Consider diverse patient demographics: Dental offices cater to patients of various ages and backgrounds. It is essential to consider the preferences of different demographics when creating the playlist. For example, older patients might appreciate familiar classical pieces, while younger patients may prefer contemporary instrumental tracks.
  • Set the right volume: While music should create a relaxing atmosphere, it should not be too loud to interfere with communication between the dentist and the patient. Finding the right balance is crucial to ensuring an optimal experience for everyone.
  • Consider nature sounds: In addition to instrumental music, nature sounds like gentle rainfall, flowing streams, or birdsong can contribute to a calming ambiance. These sounds can help mask any potentially unpleasant noises and further alleviate anxiety. These are particularly good for chairside music during procedures.
  • Avoid jarring or upbeat tracks: Loud, peppy music might be fun at a party, but it can cause anxiety for patients who need to remain calm. Avoid music with intense guitar riffs, like heavy metal, or music with extreme beats. Those can create a sense of urgency that will agitate patients.
  • Don’t be repetitive: All pediatric dentists make the same mistake at first with their dental office music. They use children's classics like “The Wheels on the Bus” or “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider” as family-friendly playlists. But listening to those songs on repeat will do a lot more to cause anxiety than to allay it! Be kind to your patients (and staff) and provide them with variety in your playlists.

These ideas will help you offer dental office music that will relieve your patient’s anxiety and help put them at ease. Another thing you should examine as you curate your own playlist is popular artists and genres to focus on.

Popular Genres and Artists for Dental Offices

Popular music artists come and go, so it is impossible for your practice to jump on every trend. There are some classics you can consider adding to the mix and genres that are great for creating a soothing atmosphere.

Here are several choices from each genre:


Classical Music

Ambient and New Age


The timeless compositions of Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven can work wonders in creating a soothing atmosphere.

  • Ludwig van Beethoven - "Moonlight Sonata" (Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor)
  • Johann Pachelbel - "Canon in D Major"
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - "Clair de Lune" (from Suite Bergamasque)

Ambient music by artists like Brian Eno or Enya, and New Age compositions featuring artists like Yiruma, offer gentle and tranquil melodies that are well-suited for dental environments.

  • Enya - "Only Time"
  • Brian Eno - "An Ending (Ascent)"
  • Ludovico Einaudi - "Nuvole Bianche"

Smooth jazz and bossa nova tunes from artists like Stan Getz, Antonio Carlos Jobim, or Norah Jones can provide a relaxing backdrop without distraction.

  • Miles Davis - "So What"
  • John Coltrane - "My Favorite Things"
  • Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong - "Summertime"

Soft Pop

Piano Instrumentals

Calm Electronic Music

Soft pop music with gentle vocals and melodies can be a desirable choice as it is well-received by a broad range of patients. It can provide a familiar and comforting atmosphere.

  • Adele - "Someone Like You"
  • Ed Sheeran - "Thinking Out Loud"
  • Norah Jones - "Come Away with Me"

Soft piano music can be very soothing and non-intrusive. It can help patients feel calm and provide a gentle background during their visit.

  • Yiruma - "River Flows in You"
  • Ludovico Einaudi - "Una Mattina"
  • Max Richter - "On the Nature of Daylight"

Some ambient electronic music with a relaxed tempo and gentle beats can create a modern and peaceful atmosphere in the dental office.

  • Tycho - "A Walk"
  • Bonobo - "Kerala"
  • Marconi Union - "Weightless"


These are just some jumping-off points for your dental office music playlist. There are millions of other options out there. Of course, now that you know what to play, you will have to make sure you have the right to play it.

Licensing and Dental Waiting Room Music

There is one big element that we haven’t yet hit when it comes to dental waiting room music; what you’re allowed to play. Your personal Spotify playlist or mix tapes you made in college are not allowed. When you buy music like that, it is only intended for personal use. The creator of the music still owns the original copyright and has a right to restrict the “public exhibition” of their works. Dental office music falls under that “public space” limitation.

You need a license if you are going to play copyright-protected works. For most dental practices, that is a bit overwhelming. Are you really expected to negotiate deals with massive music labels just for some background noise? Luckily, the answer is no. This license is included if you have a business subscription to a music streaming service. Practices can also purchase umbrella licenses from a variety of organizations like The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, Broadcast Music Inc., and SESAC.

While dental office music can help alleviate stress for your patients, you don’t want to run afoul of any copyright laws. Ensure that any music you play in your business is properly licensed, directly or through your streaming services. That way, you can alleviate your patient’s anxiety while respecting the copyrights of the artists you choose.