Sounds that distemper the teeth: why does it happen?

Toothy or tericia. It doesn’t matter what you call it. Those sounds that shake the teeth irritate anyone and at the least expected moment. We tell you why it happens.

Last update: February 22, 2022

When you hear certain sounds, your teeth are crooked. Maybe you don’t say it that way, but the feeling must have happened to you at some point.

Also called set on edge or tericia. It’s a very annoying feeling perceived in the teeth when certain sounds seem to irritate to the dental elements. As if they vibrated along with the noise. And as we will see later, part of the explanation is in the vibration.

In this article we are going to decipher why we can feel that our teeth are crooked and who is more prone to this problem. In the same way, we will try to establish some guidelines to reduce discomfort and prevent it before it appears.

What is teething?

“On the teeth” seems to be the most appropriate term to define this phenomenon, which is not limited to noise. In itself, we would talk about an unpleasant sensation in the teeth, not only because of the sounds, but also because of an exaggerated sensitivity to certain substances that we ingest or when in contact with objects.

It is also not wrong to express that our teeth are shaken by sounds. In fact, the Royal Spanish Academy accepts that the verb shake has the definition of “feel set on edge”. Especially in South America.

The settee is usually accompanied by other concomitant symptoms, such as chills, the erection of the hairs of the upper and lower limbs and anguish. There may also be a muscle contracture at that time, both in the face and in other areas of the body.



What sounds unsettle teeth?

Each person can get set of teeth because of different noises. Here there is an individual susceptibility that is impossible to cover, because there are as many perceptions of discomfort as there are human beings.

However, most of us agree that fingernails against a blackboard are irritating. Likewise, the knife rubbing against an empty plate arouses the discomfort of anyone.

Fortunately, scientific studies have compiled a list of the most disturbing sounds for humans. Although you may not agree with some, it seems that for most this is the definitive list:

  1. A knife rubbing against glass.
  2. A fork rubbing against porcelain.
  3. Chalk screeching against a blackboard.
  4. The rubbing of a ruler against the glass.
  5. Fingernails scratching a blackboard.
  6. The cry of a baby.
  7. Mechanical tools such as pneumatic drills.
  8. The squeak of old chains in the games of the parks.
  9. The retching that accompanies nausea.
  10. Two polystyrene corks rubbing together.
The sound of objects against blackboards is a classic annoying noise for the teeth.

Why do certain sounds distemper teeth?

We already have the list of the most irritating sounds for humans. Therefore, exposure to any of them could be the cause of tooth decay. As we will clarify later, patients with dental sensitivity are the most exposed.

But reaction appears to be a primitive and evolutionary trait. That is to say, something that we human beings have as a survival reflex and that was being stored in some point of the central nervous system.

The same study that established the list of the 10 most irritating sounds made a series of observations on the brain of the volunteers who participated in the research to decipher what happened in the neurons when exposed. The area of ​​greatest activation turned out to be the cerebral amygdala.

The circuit would consist of the entry of sound through the auditory pathway, to then arrive through an internal connection to the amygdala, which is the seat of emotions. This anatomical structure would enhance the noise and produce an almost immediate negative reaction.

The negative reaction that, emotionally, is unpleasant, would also produce changes in the organism. Some of these symptoms that we have already named before have an explanation from the fight or flight reaction. In other words, they appear to alert us to the possible presence of danger, such as contracting muscles, preparing to fight or flee.

However, the teething would not have an end within the response to stress. How would it benefit us to feel tericia? There is another theory about it.



The sounds distemper the teeth for a physical reason

The pulp cavity of the teeth is the innermost region of each dental element. There resides the soft tissue with the arteries, veins and nerves. This pulp is surrounded by dentin and then, as the outermost layer, we have the enamel.

The soft tissue of the tooth has a significant proportion of liquids (water). If we increased the pressure of these liquids, then we would feel pain, because the tension would put pressure on the nerves of the pulp.

Because sounds are waves, they could alter the pressure of liquids that are trapped inside a container with little deformation capacity. Something similar happens with the barodontalgiawhich is dental pain caused by changes in atmospheric pressure when being at high altitude or when diving down to dive.

The process is summarized in sound waves that travel through the air, which alter the liquid contained in the pulp by distorting the fluids and resulting in higher intrapulpal pressure. This accumulated tension puts pressure on the dental nerve and this transmits the sensation of discomfort, discomfort or pain to the brain.

If at the same time we are seeing the origin of the sound, then the setback is reinforced visually. In other words, the mechanism of the cerebral amygdala that we explained before contributes to increasing the lack of comfort. It means that if we know where the noise is coming from, the effect could be worse.

The frequency of the annoyance

Just as the most unpleasant sounds were ranked, what frequency of the sound arouses symptoms of discomfort in humans was also investigated. It has been concluded that noises with frequencies between 2500 and 5000 Hz are the worst.

The cries of some primates are in that range. Especially those that are issued to alert the community of the proximity of a danger.

This seems to underline the theory of the archaic reflex and the cerebral amygdala. There might have been a vestige of anguish from hearing that cry in humanity’s past. similar frequencies would bring to evolutionary memory anxiety and stresswhich could be expressed in the teeth.

Teething is not misophonia

Misophonia is reduced tolerance to certain sounds. Most medical associations do not recognize it as a disease, although it can sometimes be classified as a special acoustic sensitivity.

Anyway, teething or tericia is not equivalent to this problem. People with the disorder are irritated by noises that we might recognize as everyday. For example, in front of the fact that someone chews in a somewhat strong way.

Misophonia has almost no physical symptoms. It’s more of a mood swing which turns into anxiety, anguish and irritability.

These people do not have increased connections between the auditory pathway and the cerebral amygdala, but they seem to have an irregular communication between the auditory area of ​​the brain and the motor part. Therefore, the pathophysiological basis is not the same.

Misophonia is a different disorder. The irritation is psychological, affecting mood.

Who is more susceptible to sounds that jar teeth?

People with tooth sensitivity are more susceptible to the sounds that shake the teeth. This problem is quite common in the general population.

A large part of the cases of dental sensitivity are detected in adults who are between 30 and 50 years old. The explanation is the exposure of the dentin to the outside due to wear of the enamel or because a recession of the gums exposes part of the tooth root.

The tissue that makes up the dentin is full of canaliculi that communicate with the pulp. This could also be related to the intrapulpal pressure change theory that attempts to substantiate teething through the action of sound waves.

Patients with tooth sensitivity experience pain and discomfort when they come into contact with very hot or very cold food and drinks. But also constitute a risk group for tericiabecause irritating sounds would have a greater chance of affecting dentin and pulp.

The most common causes of dental sensitivity are the following:

  • Intensive tooth brushing: the friction of the toothbrush with great force on the denture surfaces could encourage the receding of the gums.
  • Bruxism: teeth grinding wears down enamel. The mechanics of friction between the upper and lower dental arches progressively hurts the contact points, exposing the dentin in certain areas.
  • Cavities: caries cavities expose the dentin and even the pulp to the outside. Food and cold air can easily penetrate inside, reaching the nerve and sensitive parts of the tooth.
  • Use of mouthwashes with alcohol: Alcohol in mouthwashes, if not used as often as indicated, leads to damage to the enamel.
  • Gingivitis: patients with gingivitis, that is, with inflammation of the gums, usually have part of the roots exposed due to the retraction that is generated from the tissue. This part of the dental element is very sensitive.

Can I avoid teething?

Sounds that jar the teeth cannot be eliminated. They exist in everyday life and we may come across them often.

If the noise is very annoying and causes us disturbances that are unbearable, then we should look for routines that keep us away from those noises. In any case, removing them completely is an almost impossible task.

What we can do is take preventive measures to avoid or reduce tooth sensitivity. In this sense, it will be of vital importance to take care of oral hygiene with proper brushing and without exerting too much pressure, so that we do not wear down the enamel.

If we use mouthwashes, then we should prefer those that are alcohol-free or consult a dental professional to advise us on the most suitable for our mouth. With the dentist we should also address the possible problems of bruxism, cavities and gingivitis.

All these precautions reduce the risk of sensitivity, but they do not ensure that we get rid of the setback. After all, it seems that we are dealing with a primitive reflex. And the reflexes are automatic.

You won’t be able to avoid being trite, but you can be considerate of others. So try not to make noises that jar the teeth of others. Many will thank you.

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