Hurts So Good

Well, this is quaint.


Gratuitous anime redhead image with cute melon

From a blog on the NY Times site: “A growing body of research shows that people with red hair need larger doses of anesthesia and often are resistant to local pain blockers like Novocaine.” This comes out of research published in a dental journal, specifically mentioning subcutaneous anesthetics; I don’t know if anyone’s done the research on opiates, for instance.

That tweaked melanocortin gets blamed for a lot of things (my Albino Ex once told me I had a red-headed temper, from which I can only conclude he had never seen a person with a real temper), and while you will find many more vivid heads than mine, there’s enough there for this to feel very right.

I clearly remember a dental visit as a child during which the anesthesia never took (the bastard kept drilling anyway), and another decades later when I think it took about seven shots to get the job done (it was two fillings and an extraction). While I do not, like the people mentioned in the articles, avoid the dentist on that account, and in fact am known for not flinching in all kinds of disturbing circumstances, it’s not because I don’t feel anything. In the commentary on this post there’s mention of redheads also having, paradoxically, higher pain thresholds than average, and that computes, too. If there’s nothing that seems to step on the pain, you learn to roll with it, and you can tolerate just about any pain if you decide to, but dental pain is probably about the least rollable there is. I’d expect that to be the breakpoint for a lot of people. (There’s research that demonstrates women feel pain before men do under the same “noxious stimulus,” but put up with pain at levels when men are hollering Uncle — as you would have to conclude, considering how the species perpetuates. Same parameter.)

I don’t know whether this is good or bad news. I mean, they might try to draft us because we could hold up to torture, but what if the bad guys had Sir Laurence Olivier?marathonman

9 thoughts on “Hurts So Good

  1. In the “hey this is similar but completely opposite” department, a vet once told me that black cats require smaller doses of anaesthetic and medication. Don’t know if it’s true though.

    The main downside about having a high pain threshhold (I do too) is that you are less likely to visit a doctor, even for something potentially serious.

  2. I don’t have a needle when I get fillings at the dentist. For average fillings a really good dentist can drill the area without causing undue pain.

    I’ve got three molars which have crowns on them and I had needles for those. Does having fake red streaks affect my pain threshold?


  3. When I was growing up my dentist was called Mr Payne, anaesthetics weren’t used [only gas for extractions] and his dental nurse had obviously been in a bad fire as most of her face was scarred – this was just after WWII. Despite all this I really don’t mind going to the dentist ……. nowadays it’s a doddle ……..

  4. That’s quite interesting about the redheadedness thing. I wonder whether it’s actually true? I’ve always had a weakness for redheads, but not, I hasten to add, because I had any interest in testing their pain thresholds.

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