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Your Brain Can't Tell Which Tooth Aches

Scientists are trying to get a handle on mouth pain
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2010 12:34 PM CDT
Your Brain Can't Tell Which Tooth Aches
It's often tough for people to pinpoint a toothache.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A new study confirms what a lot of dentists already know: patients are often way off when they try to pinpoint a toothache. In fact, the brain can't seem to differentiate whether the pain is coming from the top or bottom row, Wired reports. It can pinpoint discomfort precisely in other parts of the body, but for some reason, mouth pain leaves it flummoxed.

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The study, which will be published in the upcoming journal of Pain, is one of the first to tackle the subject. Researchers traced the pathways of tooth pain to the brain via electrical impulses. If they can get a better handle on how it all works, it could lead to better treatments—and maybe ease the so-called phantom pain that persists after a tooth gets yanked. (Read more pain stories.)

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