307 Grafton St #203, Shrewsbury, MA 01545

The Shocking Science Behind Teeth vs. Tinfoil

Picture this: You’ve just sat down to lunch, and cold pizza is on the minute. You carefully unwrap a slice from its tinfoil covering, but as you take the first bite, you experience an unexpected jolt of pain in your tooth. It turns out that you missed a teensy bit of tinfoil hidden in the shadow of a pepperoni. Your hand shoots to your mouth, probing to see whether your amalgam filling or dental crown has fallen out or broken.

Science Behind the Shock

What causes the painful sensation that occurs when metal dental restorations come into contact with aluminum foil? This is what scientists call galvanic shock, and it is a very real phenomenon. The unusual feeling is a direct result of two unlike metals—silver and aluminum, in this case—coming into contact with each other. Add your saliva to the mix and you’ve gone and created something very similar to a battery, albeit one with minimal oomph. The newly formed electrical charge travels through the enamel and dentin of your tooth, striking the nerves. Your brain then receives a signal from the nerves, interpreting it as a jolt of pain. By the way, the galvanic effect is no match for metal-free dental restorations such as composite fillings and porcelain crowns.

A Better Use for Tinfoil

Not that you would go and waste perfectly good tinfoil on recreating this experiment, but here’s our list of handy uses for foil around the house:

  • Does your iron have gun built up over the surface? Gently run it over a sheet of aluminum foil to remove the gunk.
  • Brown sugar too hard for baking? Simply wrap a chunk of it in foil, then allow it to bake in the oven for five minutes at 300 F.
  • Have your scissors lost their slicing ability? Fold a piece of foil several times, then use the scissors to cut it into strips. This helps sharpen the blades.

About Your Shrewsbury General Dentists

At Modern Dentistry, Todd A. Pizzi, DDS, and Luciana Messina, DDS, are dedicated to providing high-quality cosmetic, restorative, and preventive dentistry services to patients and families in Shrewsbury, Worcester, North and South Grafton, Westborough, Southborough, Northborough, Boylston, Hopkinton, Millbury, and all surrounding communities. To schedule your next appointment, contact our office by calling (508) 842-8838 today.