Afraid of the Dentist? Just Blast Some Music

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The dentist's drill

For many the fear of the dentist stems from the sound of the dreaded drill. Now experts have developed a device to blot out the sound while letting patients listen to their own music tracks.

The whirring of the drill is the principal reason those who fear the dentist have qualms with opening wide. So, according to the BBC, experts at King’s College London, Brunel University and London South Bank University developed the “digital signal processor chip.” Patients can attach it to the their iPod headphones and listen to Rihanna instead of all the mechanics going on in their mouths. It’s different from simply wearing headphones, which would muffle all noises. The chip condenses the sounds of the consulting room into digital signals and uses “adaptive filtering” technology to mute the sound of the drill—and only the drill. The patient can still hear the dentist.

(See “David After Dentist” in TIME’s Top 50 YouTube Videos.)

“Many people are put off going to the dentist because of anxiety associated with the noise of the dentist’s drill,” says Professor Brian Millar of King’s Dental Institute, who first dreamed up the idea. “But this device has the potential to make fear of the drill a thing of the past.”

(See the 50 Best Inventions of 2010.)

So it’s a win-win situation: you get perfect teeth and you get to listen to your favorite tracks. Now if only they could make the drills look less scary, too.

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