Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ginger problems

On Saturday, I mentioned that I'd heard for a while that redheads are prone to migraines and anesthesia problems. Since I had a dentist appointment yesterday, I decided to research that just a little and see if it was accurate.

I've always had problems at the dentist. I consider myself to have a high pain tolerance, but when it comes to this one area I'm awful. I cannot relax enough for the anesthetic shots to work. My face will be so numb I can't feel anything, but as soon as the dentist would start work on my teeth I'd feel everything. The dentist I'm seeing now knows to use nitrous oxide every time. It makes the whole process much easier and smoother. I do still have a little pain, but I can deal with it. The anxiety is gone, and much less injections are needed.

I was surprised at what I found yesterday. It turns out that the same gene that causes red hair also affects how we process pain! This is from an article at Quality Health:
A study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association revealed that people with naturally red hair, or a gene called the melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) gene were much more likely to fear dental pain. They were also more likely to experience dental-care related anxiety and fear compared to people without red hair or the gene.
The majority of people who have red hair, and fair-skinned people, have variants of the MC1R gene. Previous studies show that redheads are resistant to subcutaneous local anesthetics. They also require about 20 percent more anesthesia before surgery than patients with other hair colors.
See? I haven't been imagining things! And here is an "official" study from National Institutes of Health with all the technical stuff. Something else I read yesterday, but somehow failed to save the link, said that redheads usually do consider themselves to have a higher pain threshhold.  This comes out of necessity, since we are more likely to build up a tolerance to pain relievers (true in my case also) and just learn to deal with the pain.

I'm glad to have scientific proof to back me up on this. I feel so much better knowing that I'm not defective in some way.


  1. In my younger years, I was a redhead and I was nodding my head in agreement. Nice to know all this is for true.

  2. I do have a higher tolerance to pain- my problem is I don't react well to the anesthesia- my body goes into shock- so I normally ask that I don't receive any shots etc. When I had a tooth removed in Ghana- they took it out without an administration of anesthesia- I just held on to the handles of the seat and let them yank it out. I hate going to the dentist because I hate getting any drugs- the drugs make me feel worse than the actual pain I'm experiencing.

    Strange how this works!

  3. I KNEW IT!!! I am vindicated! I felt every. single. thing. the dentist was doing when he was taking out my wisdom teeth and he didn't believe me!