Dentist in Scranton PA: Sedation for Redheads No Different from Others

Will redheads need more sedation from a dentist in Scranton, PA or Dallas, PA?

If some reports are to be believed, yes they will. A few studies have indicated that, thanks to their melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) gene, redheads require 20 percent more sedative than normal. As everyone knows, however, increasing sedative dosage is something that is done by medical practitioners with extreme caution.

The MC1R is a genetic code responsible for allowing the body to produce and regulate melanin. Experts, however, have linked this gene to unique responses to certain drugs like analgesics.

However, nothing conclusive has been arrived at so far. Over at Understanding Genetics, Catherine Hartzell of Stanford University referred to two studies, one done in 2004 and another in 2005, which pointed to the possibility of redheads requiring more sedatives. The sample sizes in both studies, though, were too small (20 and 60 respectively) for the findings to be considered conclusive.

Furthermore, a bigger study in 2012 involving 468 subjects virtually invalidated this claim. As Ms. Hartzell says, none of the studies done so far can conclusively link being redheaded to being more resistant to anesthesia. Whether a person’s MC1R version can indeed affect the amount of sedatives he or she needs has yet to be further tested and proven.

“As you can see, it is still not clear if there is a connection between either redheadedness or MC1R mutations and how much anesthetic you need to deal with the pain. This is most likely because many factors contribute to sensitivity to anesthetics including age, hormones, blood pressure, and other genetic factors.”

It’s interesting to note, however, that all three studies cited in Ms. Hartzell’s article used general anesthetic. A sedation dentist in Dallas, PA like Dr. James DeFinnis of Back Mountain Dental may utilize either general or intravenous sedation. Being the stronger sedative, intravenous sedatives like midazolam and diazepam are known to be just as potent on redheads as on everybody else.

Midazolam and diazepam are quite powerful drugs. As benzodiazepines, they act straight on their target, releasing a chemical messenger that reduces the activity of neurons, which heightens when in a state of anxiety. The controlling action of benzodiazepines effectively reduces the level of anxiety in the patient, and the intravenous avenue allows these drugs to take effect faster.

Until further studies prove the need otherwise, redheads will be treated just the same as any other patient, that is, the amount of anesthesia they will be administered will depend on their individual conditions.