When you jet off to an exotic locale for your vacation or jump on a plane to visit family this summer, the last thing you want to have to worry about is a toothache. Ideally, you should be able to enjoy your journey and simple relax during your trip. Unfortunately, however, in-flight tooth pain is a very common condition. In her USA Today article on the subject, Kathryn Walsh writes: “A dull ache in your tooth can turn into searing pain once you’re in the air. Any kind of tooth problem can be exacerbated by flying, and new problems can arise during your flight.” As an emergency dentist in Clear Lake, Dr. Flanagan is very familiar with struggles and hassles of tooth pains on planes. Below, we provide our tips for preventing and handling this distinctive type of toothache.
What Causes In-Flight Tooth Pain?
Do your ears feel pressure and “pop” on planes? Traveling toothaches occur for the same reason: changes in cabin pressure. Plane flight can intensify existing soreness or even cause new toothaches as your body struggles to adapt to your high-flying environment. In his Huffington Post piece “Toothaches and Airplanes: A Terrible Combination,” Dr. Thomas P. Connelly explains: “In simple terms, the air pressure in your body (your sinuses, your ears, etc.) must equate to the air pressure in the cabin…There are instances where you have air in your teeth and changes in pressure can make it hurt – and hurt badly.”
If your tooth is decayed, infected, or has been modified by prior dental work, it might be filled with tiny pockets of air. On the ground, these might create minimal or no symptoms, but once you’re under the pressure of flying, all of your tooth’s flaws become plainly apparent. Flying is an inconvenient “wake up call” to any dental issues you haven’t noticed or have left untreated.
The best way to avoid suffering a toothache on your summer flights is to make sure your teeth are in tip-top shape before you board. Dr. Flanagan and our team would be happy to see you for a cleaning and examination before you leave so you can feel confident in your oral health. We can place strong, beautiful composite fillings to remedy decay, perform root canal therapy to fight pulp infection, or provide any other necessary general dentistry treatments to help you maintain a comfortable smile all summer.
If Dental Discomfort Strikes on Your Flight
If you develop an in-flight toothache, taking a painkiller like ibuprofen could help you temporarily manage your symptoms. You might also ice the region, stick to soft foods that won’t strain your mouth, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Once you land, you can call your emergency dentist in Clear Lake for advice. Dr. Flanagan can provide specific recommendations depending on your particular symptoms. If your case is severe, she may refer you to a qualified dentist in your new locale so the issue can be handled before you make your return flight (since you definitely don’t want to relive your toothache experience!).
Enjoy a Healthy, High-Flying Smile
As an experienced emergency dentist in Clear Lake, Dr. Flanagan can help you handle any type of toothache. To learn more of our vacation dental tips or schedule a pre-flight check-up, contact Cindy Flanagan, D.D.S.