Are Redheads Genetically Programmed to Dislike Dentists?

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.
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