Tuesday, November 3

Ginger Heads

On a recent trip to the dentist, to fill not one but two cavities, the dentist had to use five shots to numb my mouth.  I had always heard redheads needed more anaesthesia than other folks; guess it was true.  (Ironically my dentist is also a redhead.)  Anyway,  I wondered what it is about our red hair that affects our pain tolerance.
Let's start first with what makes our hair red.  There's this gene MC1R that produces pigment in your body.  Our bodies (redheads) produce tons of this red pigment called pheomelanin and underproduce a dark pigment eumelanin.  These levels of pigment make my hair red.
Right now scientists don't know specifically what the connection between redheads and pain is.  There is speculation that the pigments increase pain sensitivity.  But scientists know for sure the MC1R gene is in some way related, just not sure exactly how it relates.
There is lots more information available here about a study done at the University of Lousiville, Kentucky.  They found that redheads needed about 20% more anaesthesia.

And here are some fun useless facts about redheads:
Less than 4% of the world has natural red hair; less than 2% in the US.
The highest percentage of redheads is found in Scotland.
Redheads don't turn gray as they age, they turn white.
Russia means "land of reds" in honor of a Viking, Rurik.
In the late 16th century, the fat of a redheaded man was an ingredient in poison.
Egyptians, believing the color red was evil, burned women alive.
In Greek mythology, redheads turn into vampires when they die.
Redheads have fewer hairs on their heads than others.

And I can't write about redheads without mentioning this great video from Dazed and Confused.

Side note:  Despite the fact I had two cavities, I do actually practice good dental hygiene and consider myself "a teeth person."  I just have really deep grooves, so says Dr Walker.


  1. Didn't you wake up while having your tonsils taken out when you were little?

  2. Yay!!!!! I finally posted a comment! It took about a week, but I hope it was worth the wait. Ha!

  3. Mantha woke up during tonsil surgery. Remember, he doctors were talking about another doctor.