What Sets Your Teeth ‘On Edge’?

What Sets Your Teeth ‘On Edge’?

Can certain sounds and sensations actually have a physical effect on our teeth?

Probably everyone has different sounds that set their teeth on edge, as the saying goes. One of the most common examples of this is the sound of fingernails being scraped along a blackboard. Does this actually have anything to do with the health of our teeth though?

Taking a break from looking directly at the procedures available at our Ipswich dental clinic, our Foxhall Dental Practice team attempt to answer this question.

Survival instincts

From a number of research projects, it appears that this particular sound has a frequency which is very similar to the cry of a baby or someone screaming. The conclusion drawn from this is that this sound becomes impossible to ignore and may be linked to a very old warning signal of distress, helping the survival of young babies and adults in trouble.

There are other theories too. One of which suggests that our reaction to this sound is due to the shape of our ear canal.

There is much research on the topic but none of it appears to relate to our teeth. The general consensus is that the term originates from the phrase to ‘edge the teeth’ meaning the sensation of sensitivity when we eat something acidic, such as raw rhubarb. A similar phrase has also been found in a version of the bible from 1382 and is mentioned at least once by Shakespeare.

Tooth sensitivity

Whilst it seems that our teeth being on edge from a particular sound is largely psychological, our teeth can react to certain circumstances, such as when we eat or drink very hot or cold foods. This is not psychological though and usually occurs when the enamel of our teeth has become damaged or compromised in some manner. Whether a tooth is chipped, cracked, or the enamel simply worn down over time, it allows the nerves to become more exposed and therefore more sensitive to extremes of heat. In addition to this, there is an increased risk of decay and/or root canal infection if the protective enamel is damaged.

Some potential damage can be avoided by keeping your teeth clean and minimising the amount of acidic food and drinks that you consume. Teeth may crack or break due to poor care, but also through accidents. However the enamel is damaged though, you should make sure to have it looked at and rectified by one of our dental team.

If the enamel on the front of your teeth has been damaged significantly, you may wish to consider having porcelain dental veneers fitted, both to restore the appearance and to protect the inner part of your tooth.

If your teeth become ‘on edge’ when you eat or drink hot or cold foods and drinks, it is time to have them checked at the Foxhall Dental Practice. You can call us on 01473 258396.