Have you ever heard of a condition called barodontalgia? No, it’s not some exotic location in Europe, but you do have to fly in an airplane to experience it. Unfortunately, unlike a vacation, you probably don’t want barodontalgia. In laymen’s terms, this condition is simply a high-altitude toothache. Similar to a scuba diver experiencing decompression sickness from gas build-up when they descend into deeper parts of the ocean, your teeth can be affected by pressure changes. Dr. Fondriest, explains how pockets of gas can get inside your teeth when you fly, causing discomfort and even potential tooth damage.
How Serious is a High Altitude Toothache?
People with undiagnosed or untreated tooth decay, fillings, mouth inflammation, or deep tooth crevices are the most likely to experience a high altitude toothache. Sudden barometric pressure changes occur when an airplane ascends and descends, and this makes gas expand. Other parts of the body – sinuses, ear canals, intestines – are more pliant than the dentin and enamel of your teeth. They can generally weather gas build-up even if there is slight discomfort. Since your teeth cannot expand in the same way, you may find yourself with a dental crisis so the gas pockets are substantial enough to put too much pressure on an already weakened tooth.
High Altitude Toothache Symptoms and Side Effects
If you have a bout with tooth pain while flying, you will possibly feel sudden soreness, sensitivity, pressure, and even sharp pain in the teeth. Crowns, caps, veneers, fillings, or any tooth restorations have been reported to actually pop off during a flight. On the bright side, in-flight toothaches can alert you to cavities that have not been diagnosed yet. If you experience any unusual symptoms in your teeth from altitude shifts, consider making an appointment to see your dentist after you land.
Have you ever experienced tooth pain while flying?
There is no way to prevent high-altitude toothaches, but if you are someone that flies often, taking care of your teeth and gums can help avoid in flight toothaches. If you have just undergone dental work and you are scheduled to fly, discuss your situation with Dr. Fondriest. You can reach our office by calling 847.234.0517. Our office provides cosmetic dentistry to patients from the greater Chicago area.