Researchers define new targets for reducing cold exposure in teeth
Researchers believe they have figured out what is behind this strange reaction to cold in teeth a sensory pathway that has eluded science for years. The cold sensor discovered in the current research could pave the way for potential treatments for tooth pain and sensitivity, as well as some of the more severe side effects of cancer therapy.
Researchers announce that they have discovered a new role for odontoblasts, which are the cells that shape dentin, the shell under the enamel of the tooth that encases the porous dental pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels.
“We found that odontoblasts, which support the shape of the tooth, are also responsible for sensing cold. This research contributes a new function to this cell, which is exciting from a basic-science standpoint. But we now also know how to interfere with this cold-sensing function to inhibit dental pain.” said Jochen Lennerz, MD, PhD, Study Senior Author and Pathologist, Medical Director of the Center for Integrated Diagnostics, Massachusetts General Hospital.
The difference between tooth pain in response to the cold and pain from a cut or a muscle ache is that cold pain affects the whole tooth indiscriminately. “There is no distinction if you touch your pain receptor on the top of your tooth on the bottom,” Lennerz says. “A dentist puts anything near a nerve of your tooth; it’s pain everywhere. And that doesn’t make any sense.”