Although many people aren’t flying right now due to COVID-19, it’s always helpful to know why you might experience a sudden toothache when you do intend to fly again. Most people experience the cabin pressure change during takeoff and landing that causes ear or sinus discomfort. However, some people might also experience toothaches. Here’s what you should know about toothaches on airplanes.
When the airplane begins increasing in altitude, the pressure changes inside your body – known as aerodontalgia. With the pressure change comes a number of side effects. For one, your ears might feel full and muffled. Second, if you have any fillings in your teeth, those teeth will start to hurt. The toothache occurs because the pressure change causes existing air trapped in your tooth to cause pain.
However, it’s important to know that this doesn’t happen with all patients with dental fillings. It only happens when dental fillings don’t fill the cavity completely, or if the fillings are old and have microscopic gaps inside. If air gets stuck between your tooth and the filling, you will experience a toothache every time you’re in an airplane or whenever you experience a pressure change.
Although air trapped between the filling and tooth is the most common cause of toothaches on airplanes, there are other causes to be aware of. Cracked or chipped teeth can also cause toothaches because they leave room for tiny amounts of air to become trapped, just like dental fillings. Tooth decay and cavities can also cause toothaches on airplanes because they form tiny holes in the outermost layers of your teeth. Any type of dental damage can leave the smallest amount of room for air to become trapped which ultimately will cause a toothache.
Lastly, some people just have sensitive teeth. Sensitive teeth can feel even worse with the change in cabin pressure.
If you notice that you get a toothache every time you fly, you need to visit a dentist. In most cases, patients will need to replace their current dental filling with a new one. It’s fairly common for amalgam fillings to cause more pain and problems than composite fillings. Amalgam fillings also look less appealing than a tooth-colored composite filling. With Dr. VanTassell’s help, he can replace your old dated dental fillings with new composite fillings that match the color of your surrounding teeth. Composite fillings bond to your natural teeth so they don’t leave any room for air to sneak in during the filling process.
If chips, cracks, or another type of dental damage is the cause of your toothache, Dr. Clark can also address that. When it comes to sensitive teeth though, he will likely recommend using a sensitive friendly toothpaste to prevent toothaches on planes in the future.
While you continue planning your first vacation after the pandemic ends, why don’t you consider visiting us for a dental exam? During your exam, we will look for any signs of damage and address whether or not to replace your filling if it’s causing you problems. Then, once you’re free to travel again, you won’t have to worry about a toothache on the plane.
Contact Burkburnett Family Dental in Burkburnett, TX today to schedule your next appointment.