In what could spell the end of people's anxiety about trips to the dentist, scientists claim to have invented a gadget which camouflages the whirr of the doctor's drill.
The device plugs into an MP3 or mobile and uses a filtering technique to cancel out the high pitched buzz of the drill; but still allows the patient to listen to music and hear what the dentist is saying, say scientists from Kings College, Brunel University and London South Bank University.
Studies have shown that for many people it is the sound of the drill that causes the most anxiety about visiting the dentist and scientists hope that the device could encourage more people to get necessary treatment.
Containing a microphone and a chip that analyses soundwaves, it plugs into an MP3 or mobile and uses adaptive filtering to mask only the disturbing sound of the medical equipment, such as the drill and suction pipes, 'The Daily Telegraph' reported.
The device was created by a team led by Prof Brian Millar of King's College, who drew inspiration from carmaker Lotus, which has developed a system to remove road noise while allowing drivers to hear emergency sirens.
A prototype has already been built and successfully tested and King's is seeking an investor to bring it to the open market.
Prof Millar said, "Many people put off going to the dentist because of anxiety associated with the noise of the dentist's drill. But this device has the potential to make fear of the drill a thing of the past".
"The beauty of this gadget is that it would be fairly cost-effective for dentists to buy, and any patient with an MP3 player would be able to benefit from it, at no extra cost". "What we need now is an investor to develop the product further, to enable us to bring this device to as many dental surgeries as possible, and help people whose fear of visiting the dentist stops them from seeking the oral health care they need."