Can’t Exactly Tell Which Tooth is Aching?

Your Brain and Your Tooth Ache

Most people are so tuned in to pain they exactly know where it hurts – a knife cut in the middle finger or a splinter caught under the thumb nail, even if the fingers involved are near each other. It is not so readily easy with toothache in the mouth. A new study from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany is one of the first to address the puzzle of toothache localization.

Researchers analyzed brain activity in healthy volunteers as they experienced tooth pain. They delivered short electrical pulses to the upper left canine tooth or the lower left canine tooth in the subjects. These bursts of electrical stimulation produced a painful sensation similar to that felt when biting into an ice cube and were tuned such that the subject always rated the pain to be about 60%, with 100% being the worst pain imaginable.

The researchers used fMRI to monitor changes in activity when the upper tooth or the lower tooth was electrocuted. Many brain regions responded to top and bottom tooth pain in the same way, for the signals came from two branches of the trigeminal nerve . The V2 branch carries pain signals from the upper jaw, and the V3 branch carries pain signals from the lower jaw. Regions in the cerebral cortex behaved similarly for both toothaches. These brain regions are known to play important roles in the pain projection system, yet none showed major differences between the two toothaches.

Though the stimulation was more or less the same, the experiments might have missed subtle differences that could account for why some tooth pain can be localized and some can’t. The person couldn’t tell where the pain was coming from, so dentists should be aware that patients aren’t always able to locate the pain source. There are physiological and anatomical reasons involved.
These findings are consistent with what dentists see in practice – the brain is unable to tell top-tooth pain from bottom-tooth pain.

Understanding the pathway from tooth to brain may help researchers devise better treatments for acute tooth pain, such as cavities or infections, and more-chronic conditions, such as phantom pain that persists in the mouth after a tooth has been removed.

Understanding Tooth Pain Locations in Bellingham

Are you experiencing tooth pain and can’t exactly tell us which or where? No worries. It’s a common enough dilema. Come to us in Bellingham for a consult and let us look you over and help.

What Ingredient in Toothpaste Helps Best?

Pros and Cons of Alternative Toothpastes

The Los Angeles Dental Society talks about the pros and cons of some of the popular alternative toothpaste in the market today. Like most commercial health and beauty products, toothpaste has been industrialized over the years. Fluoride is still a popular ingredient and its benefits well studied. To curb excessive use of fluoride, the ADA lends its seal of acceptance on those brands that conform with the safe and proper proportions of fluoride. Question is, do these other alternative oral care products actually clean teeth and prevent cavities?


Synonymous with “black”, charcoal is claimed to help whiten your teeth. The abrasiveness of charcoal helps remove stains, helps raise the pH in your mouth which in turn helps neutralize acids. While there’s no proof that it’s a better option than regular toothpaste, charcoal-based toothpaste may be too abrasive if the quantities are too high.

Baking Soda

Although baking soda does help to remove plaque, it doesn’t kill any bacteria, and that can actually increase cavity formation in your teeth. Its abrasive properties that help clean your teeth can also damage the enamel, so it’s best to use baking soda and baking soda-heavy products only occasionally.


It is known to be anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory. If you use cinnamon in too strong a concentration or too frequently, you may wind up with red and white patches in your mouth that burn. With a condition called cinnamon-induced oral mucosal contact reaction, you’ll need to stop using cinnamon-flavored products, including toothpastes and gum.

Coconut Oil

It has been shown to help prevent and treat oral candida infections or thrush. However, whether it will reduce cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth is still in question. Some small studies suggest its antibacterial ability helps reduce plaque and gingivitis, but more research is needed for a solid conclusion.

Sea Salt

Sea salts can temporarily raise the pH in your mouth, which makes it more difficult for bacteria to thrive. That’s why it’s also a top ingredient in homemade toothpastes.

Recommending Best Toothpaste Ingredients

Alternative toothpaste with their cleaning effects have their own benefits to boast. It just may be more safe for consumers to use them in moderation. Ask your Bellingham dentist about them.

Can You Stop Gums from Receding?

The Problem of Receding Gums

Pink and firm to the touch, healthy gums fit around tooth roots snugly. Made of soft tissue, gums (also called gingiva) support teeth and keep them in place. Sometimes it might not always be the case. You might notice that some teeth appear to look longer than usual, the gum tissue around them have a reddish hue. This indicates receding gums, slowly pulling away from their usual firm grip. In addition, the gums are swollen and tender, bleed easily when you brush. You might even notice bad breath.

What might have caused the recession? There may be several reasons for this. One is neglect of oral health which can lead to gum disease. You might be brushing too hard, which can do more harm than good. Crooked teeth and misaligned bite are also risk factors. There might have been injury to the teeth involved, or you might be into teeth grinding. Genetics also play a role.

The edge of the gum tissue, which surrounds your teeth, is known as the gingival margin. If this margin pulls away from the teeth, it leaves the roots exposed and more susceptible to decay and tooth loss. Your gums won’t return on their own because they do not grow back. It can affect your self-esteem, your smile. There are a few ways to treat gingival recession. Stopping the habits within your control and improving dental hygiene can reverse the recession process. These are two immediate changes you can make.

If your gum recession is advanced already, the most appropriate treatment will depend on whether you have symptoms of periodontal disease and the severity of the recession. With signs of gum disease, the dentist might perform a deep cleaning of the teeth, to remove any bacteria and debris, before the tissue is attached. If there is a considerable amount of recession, a gum graft is recommended to replace the lost tissue, taking tissue from one area, like the roof of the mouth, then transferring it to the gum area. Another is the pinhole surgical technique which involves manipulating existing gum tissue over the exposed roots.

Good oral habits must be maintained at all times to prevent worsening of your gum recession. Fix crooked teeth or have your bite aligned. Stop smoking which can advance gum recession.

Gum Recession is Treatable in Bellingham

Don’t delay any further if you’ve noticed gum recession. See your Bellingham dentist right away for advice and treatment. Know that gum disease is rampant and when it is long-standing, it can jeopardize oral and body health.