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Are Redheads Genetically Programmed to Dislike Dentists?

By amywindsor |

My MC1R gene excuses me from dental exams, right?

People with naturally red hair, according to a new study from the Journal of the American Dental Association, appear to have a genetic predisposition to experience more anxiety about going to the dentist. Which, interestingly, means that dentist-fearing redheads may actually be telling the truth when they claim to loathe dentistry at a cellular level.

Although it seems like our limited scientific research funds would be better spent finding out who is predisposed to developing, oh, say, CANCER, I guess dentists are entitled to get some answers on why their ginger patients are so skittish. And for the redheads: it never hurts to have an excuse based on your DNA at the ready to explain why you haven’t come in for a teeth cleaning in over a year.

The study surveyed 144 people, 67 of which were natural redheads. Afterwards, blood samples were taken to look for specific variants of genes that are common in redheads. The researchers found that the people who had red hair and a specific gene called MC1R were more than twice as likely to avoid dental work because of anxiety. It is interesting to note that 65 of the 67 redheads had the MC1R gene.

The study, as described by The Body Odd, doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll hate dentists if you have the gene. In fact, the gene seems to be more indicative of redheads’ resistance to certain pain medications — because dentists happen to be the most common doctor to administer pain medication to make procedures tolerable, they inevitably get a bad rap. One bad experience and a lifetime of dentistry-related anxiety can ensue, after all.

Speaking from experience, my strawberry-blonde sister has always required twice the amount of Novocain as a normal patient and I recall her dreading every dentist’s appointment when we were kids because she was rarely completely numb when the drilling started. Yikes!

Does this hold true for other redheads? Will you ask your dentist to be extra cautious with your redheaded children? And do you hate being referred to as a “redhead” as much as my sister does??

Read more of Amy Windsor’s writing at Bitchin’ Wives Club.
Follow Amy on Twitter and Facebook.

And don’t miss these posts:
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About amywindsor

amywindsor

amywindsor

Amy Windsor is an avid mommy blogger whose blog, Bitchin' Wives Club, was named one of Babble's Top 100 Mom Blogs in 2012. She was a contributor to Babble's Parenting channels.

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8 thoughts on “Are Redheads Genetically Programmed to Dislike Dentists?

  1. Brigette says:

    This is ABSOLUTELY true. I would rather shave my entire head of red hair than spend a half hour at the dentist.

    1. amywindsor says:

      @Brigette I’m sorry to hear your confirmation of the study. Personally, I’ve had so much work done on my teeth that I am keenly grateful for the fact that I don’t find the dentist’s office too terrible.

  2. Linda, t.o.o. says:

    My redheaded son just had surgery and the anesthesiologist told me that red thing is a myth,

    1. amywindsor says:

      @Linda And, yet, here is a study that says otherwise! ;) Maybe the anesthetic the doc uses is one that overrides the gene’s affect.

  3. Linda, t.o.o. says:

    I have no idea, but I was really worried about it. I might have quizzed him more but it was the middle of the night and the child needed his appendix out. Said child actually has no problem with the dentist either, but he’s only ever had cleanings.

  4. Heather says:

    I had to read this article because I was wondering if there was a connection between being a redhead and pain medication not being as effective, which is the case with me. I have always needed at least two doses of novacaine, sometimes three! After dental surgery I was given a prescription for a pain killer that most people get addicted to…it hardly eased the pain for me. After my first child was born via c section which got infected a week later and I was in the ER having to have it cleaned out, they gave me three doses of morphine and I STILL screamed in pain. Thank god epidurals and spinals work on me, otherwise I would have only had one child :)

  5. Heather says:

    I forgot to add, it may not necessarily be a redhead thing though, because my mother and sister also need estra doses of novicaine and they have dark blond hair.

  6. LogicalMama says:

    My cousin is a red-headed dentist!

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