Does listening to music reduce anxiety and pain in third molar surgery?

A summary of: Monteiro, J.L.G.C., da Silva Barbirato, D., Moraes, S.L.D. et al. Does listening to music reduce anxiety and pain in third molar surgery? —a systematic review. Clin Oral Invest 26, 6079–6086 (2022).


Extraction of impacted 3rd molars is often associated with anxiety which also has an effect on the perception of pain. To manage patient anxiety, pharmacological methods such as sedation with benzodiazepines and antidepressants are often considered; however, these medications have unwanted side effects, require the operator to have specialised training and are invasive. Alternatively, more beneficial, non-pharmacological and non-invasive methods of listening to music to reduce anxiety and pain have been proposed by studies.

This systematic review aimed to analyse the “effects of listening to music in reducing preoperative anxiety and pain (intra or postoperative) in 3rd molar extractions.”


· Search was conducted on MEDLINE/PubMed, Cochrane Library, Embase, and Scopus databases, along with manual searches in other scientific journals for randomised controlled trials looking at the effects of listening to music on 3rd molar extraction.

· Based on inclusion and exclusion criteria, reports were selected, and data was extracted by two independent reviewers. Risk of bias was assessed using Cochrane tool.


Out of 1882 studies, 5 studies were qualitatively analysed with a total of 436 patients.

All studies had a high risk of bias as it was not possible to blind participants or researchers to music. However, some outcomes measured (e.g., haemodynamic) had a low risk of bias as electronic devices were used.

The time, type and length of music played varied between the studies.

The outcomes of listening to music evaluated varied between studies.

All 5 studies evaluated the outcome of anxiety before and after the procedure based on different scales.

o Overall, a significant decrease in anxiety was reported in the music group.

3 studies also evaluated the effects of music listening on haemodynamic parameters such as mean blood pressure and heart rate.

o Only 1 study showed a statistically significant decrease in systolic blood pressure in the music group whereas the other 2 studies showed no difference.

1 study evaluated the perception of pain.

o No significant difference was found in the perception of pain between groups.

Overall listening to music showed beneficial effect on reducing anxiety compared to control.


Listening to music has an effect to decrease preoperative patient anxiety during 3rd molar extraction, however, the effect on intra and postoperative pain needs to be further explored.

Further research with same outcomes as well as the comparison of pharmacological and non-pharmacological measures of listening to music would be beneficial.

Research Summary Written By: Neha Thomas, University of Dundee – BDS 4

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