If you travel by air for your job, or for a vacation, you may notice tooth pain during or after the flight. Even divers experience the same pain. The reason: changes in pressure. Lower air pressure like in the cabin of a plane typically “squeezes” parts of the body that are filled with air and that are lined with firm walls such as the middle ear spaces, and sinus cavities of the skull (located around the tooth area). This pain happens often during ascension and descending of the airplane. A healthy tooth is not affected by changes in pressure, but if have you any tooth decay or had dental work done, problems can occur rather quickly.
When your ears “pop,” swallowing, yawning and moving the lower jaw from side to side are common ways to equalize the pressure and make it normal again. If these simple tactics don’t help, it may be time to see the dentist and have a checkup and learn more information.
There is not much you can do in flight to fix your toothache. Being ready for the episode by having ibuprofen or your choice of painkiller can help for some time. Be sure to ask a dentist which is best, so he/she can advise you on an effective way for treating a toothache
Knowing When to Contact John Chu, DMD
Dr. John Chu
has seen cases like this many times, particularly for those who cannot find relief. Any defect in a filling or a tooth can trap air, and when the pressure changes it can squeeze and cause a toothache. A first sign of a cracked or fractured tooth may be a pain response to pressure change, as well.
It is well advised to see a dentist before flight travel, especially if you travel by plane often. Visiting our office can rule out gum disease, tooth decay, cracked fillings or teeth, as well as TMD. A custom mouthpiece can be made for relief if pain still persists.
Are you a patient of John Chu, DMD? If so, we would love to hear about your experiences below!