Are Redheads More Sensitive to Dental Pain?

August 23rd, 2015


Does your hair color have an impact on your desire to visit the dentist for your routinely check-up? According to recent research, redheads may share dental anxiety as a result of sensitivity. Individuals with red hair are often resistant to local pain fighters such as Novocain. Discoveries have also shown that redheads tend to need larger doses of anesthesia. 

Despite their fiery appearance, redheads may be more sensitive to pain than others. Consequently, according to the Journal of American Dental Association, they are twice as likely to avoid going to the dentist and often experience more anxiety when it comes to dental procedures than individuals with other hair colors. In addition, redheads have an increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease (Disorder of the nervous system that affects the motor system), skin cancer, and endometriosis (Condition where tissue from the uterus grows outside of the uterus).

This news led Dr. Daniel Sessler, an Outcomes Research Department chair at The Cleveland Clinic, to produce two studies. In 2004, the study showed that people with red hair require 20 percent more general anesthesia than blondes and brunettes. In the 2005 study, it was found that redheads have a greater resistance to local anesthesia and are more sensitive to thermal pain than others.

Researchers hypothesize that variants of the melanocortin-1 receptor gene (MC1R gene), which produces melanin, may be a contributing factor. play a role. Melanin functions to give skin, hair, and eyes their color. However, redheads do not produce melanin due to a mutation of the MC1R gene, which is responsible for their freckles, fair skin color, and red hair. In fact, redhead genes are thought to date back 20,000 to 40,000 years. Although not completely understood, MC1R receptors in the brain may influence pain sensitivity. Even though this may not be the best discovery in the world for redheads, it has inspired research that may lead to new and safer drug prescriptions.

Not all redheads experience sensitivity. Yet, individuals without red hair can also carry a variant of the MC1R gene, and thus experience more anxiety than those without the MC1R gene. According to a study, the MC1R gene was found in 20 of 77 participants with brown or black hair.

Patients who have experienced pain should inform their dentists. Dental anxiety should never get in the way of maintaining your oral health. Here are steps that you can take to help relieve your stress or even conquer your dental fear.

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or smile@wellesleydentalgroup.com to set up an appointment and consultation.

Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist Dr. VanDr. Emad is happy to help with your orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs Dr. Ghazi would be more than willing to help.







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