According to research on the interaction between aesthetic stimulation and pain thresholds, looking at paintings you consider beautiful reduce the amount of discomfort you experience. The research didn’t look specifically at dental offices or procedures, but it shows a potentially meaningful connection between your dentist’s decoration and your level of ease.

different paint swatches laid out on tableBlasting Subjects with a Laser

In order to measure the impact of beautiful paintings on pain thresholds, researchers first had subjects rate a number of paintings as beautiful, neutral, or ugly. Then researchers used electroencephalography (EEG), electrodes placed on the scalp to measure brain activity, to look at responses to a laser firing at the subject’s hand. They put particular emphasis on P2 waves, which are associated both with pain and with vision. Subjects were blasted with the laser while looking at no painting, and while looking at paintings they had previously rated. Researchers found that looking at at any painting reduced the amplitude of the P2 waves. The amplitude reduction was greatest for beautiful painting, but ugly paintings helped, too. Although neutral paintings reduced the amplitude of the waves, the difference was not considered significant. It’s worth noting that not everyone is convinced by this research, which was awarded an Ig Nobel prize in 2014 because it was considered trivial.

Why Gauge Your Dentist’s Taste in Art

So the next time you’re in your dentist’s office, take some time to look around at the art. It turns out the art isn’t just a secondary consideration: it may make a difference to your level of comfort during or after a procedure. Of course, we don’t count on art to make sure you’re comfortable, but it doesn’t hurt to have pretty art to look at in addition to receiving anesthesia! Another reason to look at the art in a dentist’s office is to get a sense of their aesthetic sense, which is more important for cosmetic dentistry. If you don’t agree with your dentist’s aesthetic sense in terms of art, you also might not agree in terms of smile aesthetic. If you are looking for a cosmetic dentist in Spokane or Spokane Valley with great taste in smiles, please call 509-581-4188 or 509-927-2273 for an appointment at Collins Dentistry & Aesthetics.