Can Flying Give Me a Toothache?

Traveling this holiday season? You may be surprised to find that your teeth become sensitive and develop a growing pain as your plane begins to climb. Not only will oral problems you brought on the plane with become much worse, but you may notice some tooth pain for the first time. So what exactly is going on? And is there any way you can manage this type of pain?

Why Flying Can Give You a Toothache

Decay: When a tooth starts to go bad, decay forms and essentially starts to eat away at the tooth. This will oftentimes bring air into the tooth. However, the openings for said air are microscopic (making it “trapped,” for all intents and purposes). When you go on a plane, this trapped air cannot keep up with the cabin pressure. Hence a toothache.

A filling or other dental work: Sometimes air gets trapped in a filling or other dental work. Hence, the air, like the above example, really has nowhere to go. Or even if it can slowly escape, it cannot keep up with the rapid changes in cabin pressure. Also, older fillings can have microscopic gaps or holes that develop over time and lead to the same trapped air.

One of the drawbacks of the “an airplane toothache” is — unlike ear pain or sinus pain — there is little you can do to prevent it. In other words, chewing gum or swallowing isn’t going to relieve any pressure inside your tooth. This makes air travel with a toothache a real problem. Yes, you can take painkillers, but this may or may not work as well as you want it to.

Managing Tooth Pain While Traveling

It’s difficult to address tooth pain in the middle of a flight if you don’t come prepared. Follow these tips to help manage your pain before and during a flight.

Schedule an Appointment Before Your Flight

Have you been struggling with some tooth pain? If so, try to see a dentist before your flight. See Dr. Anotnio Lopez in Kennewick WA in the Tri-Cities area for a checkup. You can also call 509-790-3876 to speak with a receptionist that can help you get in the dental chair soon.

The altitude changes will exacerbate any problems you’ve been dealing with. A dentist can curb these issues, whether you need to have a cavity filled or a new mouthguard made. Moreover, he or she can give you some advice for managing your pain while flying. Ask your dentist about painkillers if you’ll be flying soon after an appointment, and take such medications roughly a half-hour before your plane is in the air.

It’s also worth checking in with a dentist if you have a history of tooth problems. Cracks, cavities, and issues with fillings can develop before you experience any pain, but they will lead to some discomfort while flying.

During Your Flight

If you came prepared with your dentist-approved pain meds, remember to take them before you leave and to take more when you can during your flight. Also, note that your teeth will still be extra sensitive during this time. Avoid cold beverages and foods, and go for water instead of coffee, tea, and other acidic or sugary drinks. If you’re still recovering from dental surgery, bring extra gauze to handle any additional bleeding from your gums that may occur during the flight.