Colds are caused by cells called odontoblasts inside the tooth
Researchers at Boston University have discovered a new function of dentin – forming odontoblasts, cells that make up the dentin, which contains blood vessels and nerves, beneath tooth enamel. Researchers have found that odontoblasts, one of the factors that shape teeth, also play a role in causing frostbite. A study published in Science Advances shows that this feature of odontoblasts is the cause of toothache when cold.
Toothache can occur when you feel cold for many reasons. If you have a toothache, you may feel severe toothache when you feel cold. Toothache can also be caused by hypersensitivity due to wear and tear of the gums with age. Cancer patients who have undergone platinum chemotherapy also feel better when they have a cold. Joken Lawrence, medical director at Integrated Diagnostics at Massachusetts General Hospital and one of the leading researchers in the study, says that sometimes even a light storm can cause them severe pain and many patients end their treatment.
Studying for a toothache can be a daunting task. The hardness of the teeth is a challenge for causing pain in humans for study purposes. Often this can only be done by opening the teeth. Therefore, the study was performed on rats. Researchers have found that the TRPC5 protein, which is made by the gene TRPC5, causes toothache when cold. Without this gene, the researchers found that genetically modified mice showed no signs of pain. Lawrence explained that TRPC5, which reacts rapidly to heat, transmits cold to the tooth via the odontoblast, stimulating the nerves and causing severe pain and cold hypersensitivity. They also suggest that this may be one of the body’s means of protecting damaged teeth from further injury.
When exposed to cold, the TRPC5 protein opens channels in the membranes of odontoblasts, allowing calcium-like molecules to enter the cell. TRPC5 is more likely to be present when there is a deep-seated infection in the dentin and more electrical signals are sent from the root of the tooth to the painful brain. The wear and tear of gums caused by aging makes the tooth hypersensitive because the odontoblasts feel the cold through the newly exposed area of the tooth. In the presence of cold, the activity of most cells and tissues slows down. However, TRPC5 activates cells when they are cold.
The researchers also confirmed the presence of TRPC in human teeth. Lemongrass has been widely used as a toothpaste for centuries. The eugenol it contains blocks TRCP5. Toothpastes containing eugenol are already available in the market. The researchers hope that their findings will lead to the development of new drugs to reduce the sensitivity of the tooth to cold. Furthermore, the study suggests that eugenol-containing medications may be effective in treating extreme cold sensitivity caused by chemotherapy. Lawrence hopes that their discovery will inspire such new discoveries.