The Reason Our Teeth Are So Sensitive to Pain

This woman's tooth pain is actually helping her avoid further damage.
This woman's tooth pain is actually helping her avoid further damage.
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On a good day, your teeth can chew through tough steak and split hard candy into pieces without you feeling a thing. But sometimes, something as simple as slurping a frosty milkshake can send a shock through your tooth that feels even more painful than stubbing your toe.

According to Live Science, that sensitivity is a defense mechanism we’ve developed to protect damaged teeth from further injury.

“If you eat something too hot or chew something too cold, or if the tooth is worn down enough where the underlying tissue underneath is exposed, all of those things cause pain,” Julius Manz, American Dental Association spokesperson and director of the San Juan College dental hygiene program, told Live Science. “And then the pain causes the person not to use that tooth to try to protect it a little bit more.”

Teeth are made of three layers: enamel on the outside, pulp on the inside, and dentin between the two. Pulp, which contains blood vessels and nerves, is the layer that actually feels pain—but that doesn’t mean the other two layers aren’t involved. When your enamel (which isn’t alive and can’t feel anything at all) is worn down, it exposes the dentin, a tissue that will then allow especially hot or cold substances to stimulate the nerves in the pulp. Pulp can’t sense temperature, so it interprets just about every stimulus as pain.

If you do have a toothache, however, pulp might not be the (only) culprit. The periodontal ligament, which connects teeth to the jawbone, can also feel pain. As Manz explains, that sore feeling people sometimes get because of an orthodontic treatment like braces is usually coming from the periodontal ligament rather than the pulp.

To help you avoid tooth pain in the first place, here are seven tips for healthier teeth.

[h/t Live Science]

The Reason Toilet Paper Is Always White

Toilet paper keeps it simple.
Toilet paper keeps it simple.
gjohnstonphoto/iStock via Getty Images

It doesn't matter whether you grab it at Costco or Walmart or whether it's Cottonelle or Charmin. Toilet paper is always stark white, which makes every bit of residue from its selfless mission to clean one’s rear end visible. But assessing whether a proper wipe job has been done is not why toilet paper is white.

According to Reader’s Digest, toilet paper is made from cellulose fiber harvested from trees or recycled paper and then mixed with water to create wood pulp. Manufacturers then bleach the pulp to remove the polymer lignin, a process that creates softer tissue. (Removing lignin also extends the life of the paper. With it, your tissue might age as poorly as newspaper.) Naturally, that same bleach also renders the pulp white. Otherwise, there would be brown streaks—and not the kind you’re thinking of. The glue holding the cellulose together is usually darker in color.

Obviously, white toilet paper makes it easier to determine when a person has finished cleaning up after themselves. But it’s not unheard of to find colored toilet tissue. In the 1950s, pastels were popular, with people looking to match the color of the paper with their bathroom design. Consumers picked up lavender and beige rolls until the 1980s, at which point concerns over skin irritation and possible environmental damage due to the dyes saw them disappear from the market. Other countries, like South America and Europe, offer toilet paper in different colors. In France, even scented toilet paper can be found on shelves, which seems like it would be a losing battle considering what the fragrance is up against.

As festive as that all sounds, Americans seem to be pleased with white bathroom tissue. Considering dyes only add to the cost, it would be like flushing money down the toilet.

[h/t Reader’s Digest]

What Does 'State of Emergency' Really Mean?

Firefighters battle a state of emergency.
Firefighters battle a state of emergency.
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Local and state officials across the U.S. are declaring states of emergency in their efforts to manage the coronavirus pandemic. Some entire countries, including Italy and Japan, have also declared a state of emergency. But what does this phrase really entail?

Local and State Response

The answer varies a bit from state to state. Essentially, declaring a state of emergency gives the governor and his or her emergency management team a bit of extra latitude to deal with a situation quickly and with maximum coordination. Most of these powers are straightforward: The governor can close state offices, deploy the National Guard and other emergency responders, and make evacuation recommendations.

Other powers are specific to a certain situation. For example, in a blizzard, a governor can impose travel restrictions to clear roads for snowplows and other emergency vehicles.

Calling in the Feds

If a disaster is so severe that state and local governments don’t have the cash or the logistical ability to adequately respond, the governor can ask for a declaration of a federal emergency. In this case, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) does a preliminary damage assessment to help determine whether the governor should petition the president for a federal emergency declaration.

When the declaration from the president comes through, state and local governments can get funding and logistical help from the feds. What makes a crisis a federal emergency? The list is pretty broad, but FEMA shares some criteria here.

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