Now I know why I dread the dentist

redheadsMy fellow redhead and friend Trisha from Sweet ‘n Sassy Girls introduced me to an article about how redheads are more susceptible to pain.  Now I know why I hate having dental work done.  According to the article, research shows that people with red hair need larger doses of anesthesia and often are resistant to local pain blockers like Novocaine. As a result, redheads tend to be more nervous about dental procedures and are twice as likely to avoid going to the dentist as people with other hair colors.  I have always dreaded the dentist. Always.  I thought it was because of my past TMJ surgery which does bother me a lot when I go because it hurts to hold my mouth open for a long time.  But now I know why it hurts so much when I get shots of Novocaine and why they don’t feel like they numb me at all.  So now in addition to the freckles and sunburn, I have to worry about a gene  mutation that causes redheads more pain.  Researchers believe redheads are more sensitive to pain because of a mutation in a gene that affects hair color. If you want to read the full report, check out this article from The Journal of the Americal Dental Association.

The good news is that soon I am going to have a very understanding dentist.  In December my cousin Cathy, a dentist, will be moving back to the U.S. from Germany. So finally I get to go to someone who I know will understand my pain.  My current dentist just blows me off when I say I am still hurting. 


I have to say pain or no pain, I wouldn’t trade my red hair for anything in the world.  Thanks Mom & Dad for the redheaded gene.  I guess I better also thank my Grandma who had red hair since it skips a generation in our family.  One day, a long, long  time from now I hope to have some redheaded grandkids.  We can commiserate about our dislike of dental procedures together.  Any other redheads out there feeling my pain?



6 Responses to “Now I know why I dread the dentist”

  1. 1 Shan @ Last Shreds Of Sanity August 12, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    I feel you. i am a redhead and need enough pain killers to kill a horse! I had ingrown toenail surgery when i was 19 or 20. It involved lidocaine injected directly into my big toe. I kept telling the doctor that I could still feel it each time he started the procedure. I ended up with 4 shots in each toe (Painful in itself) but I still wasn’t completely numb. He didn’t care. He went through with it anyway.

    My husband does not understand why I feel pain so strongly. He says “Oh it’s always some pain or another. Get over it.” Now I can show him this article and tell him to suck it!

  2. 2 Mom August 12, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Well your Dad used to say you got your red hair from his Mom until we attended my family reunion. There were so many redheads there that he said he wasn’t so sure that you didn’t get it from my side of the family. I’d love to have a dollar for everyone who has ever come up to me and asked, “Where did she get that red hair?”

  3. 3 Trish August 12, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    See, and I’ve never noticed needing anything more. Maybe I am just lucky! I did find it interesting. I do know that my mom said that when my brother and I were younger (he’s a redhead too!) they couldn’t rough house with us the same way because we would always cry and say it hurt.

    My red hair comes from my Great Grandma. There is no one inbetween her and I that has it. Then it was me and my brother. I look like I fit in more with my husband’s family, since there are several redheads on that side. We were pretty sure we’d have at least one red head, and our dd has lots of redheaded cousins to play with!

  4. 4 Elizabeth August 13, 2009 at 12:06 am

    I got my red hair from great aunts and uncles! I’ve never personally known anyone else in my family with red hair, so I was really hoping our kids would have it, too. Turns out all my boys are blond or light brown like my husband. Oh well!

  5. 5 Cathy the Dentist August 13, 2009 at 10:01 am

    I’m so glad you saw this! Sometimes, even though the “knowing” doesn’t make actual events easier, it is still soothing. Like when chronic symptoms are finally diagnosed. The diagnosis isn’t always good, but it’s nice to know that you weren’t imagining things.

    So, I am very concerned with the dental stress people have. I would like to explore ways with you to make your experience as easy as having your hair done!

    I love red hair, too, by the way. It’s awesome!

    See you soon, babe! Oh, did I tell you my sister is engaged??? So, not too much longer and you’ll be the only Christy Benson in my family!

  6. 6 Beth August 14, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    I LOVE red hair, and I also have a red-headed grandmother. I know the chances are so low, but I am hoping Brooke will have the red hair.

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