Your brain is an amazing organ. Not only does it automatically control much of what your body does all day, every day…it manages a huge number of sensory inputs. From your toes to the top of your head, your skin is a giant sensory organ sending your brain constant signals about temperature, pressure and sometimes pain. Your ears are constantly sending your brain input from all the sounds happening around you. Your eyes are like two incredible HD cameras sending ridiculous amounts of visual data that your brain has to assemble into the things you see at any given moment. In short…your brain has a lot to do.
In order to make that possible, your brain has to learn some short cuts. Let’s be honest…all of the input your brain gets isn’t important. Brains are used to making decisions about survival. It’s definitely more important to notice the tiger jumping out from behind that tree than it is to remember that the car that just passed you a few miles back was blue. So the brain is pretty good at filtering out the stuff that’s less important.
Take for example the town where my mother grew up. It was outside a large chemical plant. When I would visit my grandparents the first thing I would notice was a distinct and strong “chemical” smell. It wasn’t exactly unpleasant, but it was very noticeable. It usually only took a few minutes before I didn’t notice the smell any more. My brain decided the distinct smell wasn’t a threat and it pushed the mute button. I just didn’t notice it after that. Brains need to be able to do this because the amount of stimulus that reaches the brain at any given moment would be otherwise unbearable!
Then you show up to your dentist’s office. Your dentist does an exam and it seems like all they have to say is negative stuff. Your fillings are wearing out. You have a couple of teeth that are broken. You’ve got some places between your teeth where food gets stuck. And then you’re all like, “hey Doc, why so negative? My teeth feel fine!”
And then you remember that yeah, now that you think of it, when you eat things like roast beef or anything stringy they always get stuck in the same spot. And wait a minute…a piece of that tooth not the lower right did kind of chip off, but it doesn’t hurt. In fact, I forgot about it.
Remember that crazy brain you have? The one that can tune out the way your dog smells after it got sprayed by a skunk? It realized that your survival wasn’t threatened by that obnoxious roast beef catcher between your lower molars, so it tuned that sucker out.
The problem is that many of the dental problems I see every day don’t hurt one bit. Tooth decay is usually painless until it reaches the nerve of the tooth! Periodontal disease is usually doesn’t hurt right up until your teeth get loose! The beauty of regular dental care is that your dentist is outside of that amazing brain of yours and can help you determine where you might need some help and where you’re doing fine.[/caption]
So definitely trust your brain when you’re hiking through the African savannah or crossing the street. But maybe trust your dentist a bit more about the condition of your teeth. Because it’s possible you’ve gotten used to something that could cause you pain or problems down the road!
Did this make you rub your teeth with your tongue? Did it make you want to slide underneath one of our microscopes so we can get a closer look? I’d love to hear about it! You can share any Mead Family Dental post with a “Like” on Facebook, a “+1″ on Google+ or you can even “Tweet” it with Twitter! All you need to do is hover over the heart shaped button next to the title of the post. Or you can leave a comment by clicking on the balloon shaped icon next to the title.
If you’re looking for a dentist in Saginaw, we’re always happy to accept new patients! You can request an appointment online or call the office at (989) 799-9133. And, as always, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I always answer my own emails!