When you jet off to an exotic locale for your vacation or jump on a plane to visit family, the last thing you want to have to worry about is a toothache. Ideally, you should be able to enjoy your journey and simply 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. Cindy Flanagan is very familiar with the 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. Livestrong describes the formal name(s) for this phenomenon: “the condition of barodontalgia [“baro” meaning “pressure,” “dont” referring to the teeth, and “algia,” meaning pain of a certain region].” It was “previously known as aerodontalgia,” since “aero” refers to the air, where this commonly occurs, but barodontalgia is more accurate, since this type of toothache can emerge due to any “changes in air pressure.” As Livestrong notes, “aviators refer to it as ‘flyer’s toothache’ while scuba divers dub it ‘tooth squeeze.’” This dental issue can even occur in the course of “high-altitude mountaineering” or “living in the high country.”
Barodontalgia often occurs in the air because 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 (or “planely”) 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. It is especially important to see our office for a quick check-up before flying if you:
Notice cracks, holes, or discoloration in your teeth. These indicate existing dental damage, which could be worsened by the pressure of flight. 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 throughout your travels.
Are experiencing swelling, discomfort, a foul taste, or an unpleasant smell coming from your mouth. These may be signs of oral infection, which could in some circumstances lead to in-flight tooth pain. Dr. Flanagan and our team can also treat oral infection symptoms so you can fly without worry.
Have older fillings. While fillings are quite durable, they don’t always last forever. Older fillings may shift or break slightly, letting air in between the plastic or metal restoration and your remaining tooth structure. This air would respond to the pressure of atmosphere adjustments, leading to pain or even further damage. Livestrong points out that “in extreme cases, a filling may pop out of place from high-altitude pressure.” In addition to being uncomfortable and potentially embarrassing, this would put the remaining enamel at greater risk until you’re able to see a dentist for a filling repair. Dr. Flanagan and our team can assess the condition of your fillings at your biannual preventive care appointments and replace older fillings before they become an in-flight issue for you.
Recently had a restoration placed. In most cases, you should be able to fly soon after having a filling, crown, bridge, or denture placed, but your recent dental work may make you more vulnerable to toothacheon the plane. If Dr. Flanagan has recently worked on your teeth, we can give you advice on flying safely and comfortably.
Struggle with tooth sensitivity. According to the University of Utah’s Healthcare service, “statistics show that one out of every eight Americans suffers from teeth sensitivity – otherwise known as dentinal hypersensitivity.” If your teeth already negatively respond to hot, cold, or sugary foods and beverages, or if they simply feel tender on a regular basis, you may be more likely to experience in-flight toothache. Dr. Flanagan can help you find the source of your sensitivity and learn how to remedy it so your teeth don’t have to bother you, whether on the ground or in the air.
Even if you’re confident your teeth are in perfect condition, it’s a good idea to get them checked out before you get 30,000 feet up into the air. Having a pre-flight dental assessment is especially important if you’ll be gone for a long time or are traveling to a destination where finding a dentist would be more difficult. Besides, if you haven’t seen us in six months, it’s time for your cleaning and examination anyway!
If Dental Discomfort Strikes on Your Flight
If you develop an in-flight toothache, taking a painkiller and anti-inflammatory 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 (which is generally a good idea when flying).
Once you land, you can call your emergency dentist in Clear Lake for advice. Dr. Flanagan will 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 on the way back!).
Enjoy a Healthy, High-Flying Smile with Dr. Flanagan’s Help
As an experienced emergency dentist in Clear Lake, Dr. Flanagan can help you handle any type of toothache. To learn more of our travel dental tips or schedule a pre-flight check-up, contact Cindy Flanagan, D.D.S. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Original Source: https://flanagansmiles.com/restorations/tips-flight-tooth-pain-2/