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Luke Furman is a freshman studying journalism. Do you like saxophone riffs in pop tunes? Email him at or find him on Twitter at @LukeFurmanOU.

The soft rock sound of the dentist

Amplified Observations looks into why every dentist office plays soft rock while you wait to have your root canaled.

Last week I drove across my hometown for my bi-annual dentist appointment, inconveniently scheduled before noon (everyone’s preferred wake-up time). After months of not flossing or using the most dentist-recommended toothpaste, it was once again time to face the ominous surveillance with an audience of drills, while a blinding white light from above illuminates the actors in an opera of dentistry.

As I opened the door to the office’s anteroom, two phenomena assaulted my senses: first, an aggressive aroma of mint and second, an earful of essential soft rock hits from the 70s and 80s. The environment, coupled with memories from previous visits, inevitably led me to consider the question, why does every dentist office play soft rock?

Is it the impossibility of soft rock to ever offend anyone? Or are most dentists just mellow old guys who enjoy listening to Toto as they try to ignore the bad breath of their patient?

Or are the receptionists the ones behind it all?

This peculiar sociological occurrence creates even more confusion when you realize the dentist office is the only place you regularly hear soft rock. Unless you’re a huge fan of Billy Joel, Peter Frampton or Journey, you most likely don’t hear soft rock a lot in everyday life, as it’s drowned out by the hip-hop and pop songs that dominate the radio waves today.

My guess is that at least 80 percent of soft rock radio stations’ revenues are made by dentist offices playing their station from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The other 20 percent is a combination of the supermarket and when people leave the TV on for their pets and accidently tune it to a music channel (although, if I was a dog home-alone, I wouldn’t mind jamming to Wings).

Orthodontist offices, unlike dentists’, tend to lean toward mainstream classic rock or Top 40 hits, depending on how hip the staff is.

However, if I’m forced to listen to music while contemplating whether or not I’ll have any cavities, or if I’ll feel the sting of a Novocaine needle or if I’ll cringe when I hear the metallic spinning of the drill sinking into my black-spotted tooth, soft rock might not be so bad of a choice.

After all, a few Rod Stewart and Don Henley songs aren’t going to kill me. And soft rock is perfectly OK in my book. Anything is better than adult contemporary.

Luke Furman is a freshman studying journalism. Email him at or find him on Twitter @LukeFurmanOU.

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