Redhead? Scared Of Dentists? There's A Good Reason For That

Dentist Blog

It's safe to say that a lot of people don't like going to the dentist for cavity fillings or any other treatment. Having someone drilling and poking around in one's mouth tends to be unpleasant. In addition, dentists typically administer the local anesthetic lidocaine by injection. That can be quite painful for a few moments, even when a topical anesthetic is applied first.

If you have natural red hair and you've ever felt like you have a harder time with dental procedures than other people you know, you may very well be right. As it turns out, genetics makes some redheads resistant to anesthesia. 

Relevant Research 

A study published in 2005 verified that women with natural red hair are resistant to the pain-killing effects of lidocaine administered under the skin. If you've ever needed more than one lidocaine injection when you were at the dentist, this explains why. Two or three injections may be enough to block the pain of the dental procedure, but that means you still have to endure more than one shot.

The study also found that redheads are more sensitive to pain caused by excessive cold or heat. 

Only women were included in this study, but the researchers extended their conclusions to all redheads.

Why This Occurs

Most people with natural red hair have a mutation in one gene. This gene variation causes the hair color and fair skin. It also causes elevated sensitivity in certain pain receptors as well as resistance to anesthesia. That includes general anesthesia as well as local anesthesia.

Another study found that people with this gene variation are significantly more likely to be anxious and even fearful about dental care and also more likely to avoid having dental care.

The Future of Dental Anesthesia

Dentists will likely be just as happy as their patients if local anesthesia by injection becomes history. Recent developments, such as administration of local anesthesia through pressure that sends the drug into the gums, provide relief for patients who hate the dreaded needle. The technique isn't effective for all dental procedures, but it's certainly a welcome invention.

Another strategy that minimizes pain is a patented cordless device that sends pulsations into the area where the injection will be performed. The nerve receptors then signal the brain to block pain sensations. The dentist can now administer a shot with the patient feeling substantially less pain than normal. 

You might consider learning which dentists in your area have made the change to doing at least some dental procedures with newer pain-relief methods and whether any use newer computerized technology when injections are necessary. Don't hesitate to call dental clinics near you and ask, or peruse dentist websites for information. Talk to experts like Glenmore Family Dental Care for more information.

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Last year, my dentist told me that the last of my natural teeth had to go. At that point, we began to talk about the pros and cons associated with dentures and with dental implants. After learning more about each option, I decided to go with the implants. I did make the decision that is right for me. While it took a few months for everything to be in place, they have been great. I find them easy to care for, and people don't know that my teeth aren't real unless I choose to tell them. If you are facing a similar decision, let me help. I'll explain why I chose the implants and how things worked out for me. That will help you come up with the decision that will be the right one for you.