Catching a flight can often involve little more than sitting back and deciding which meal to choose and which movie to watch. For some people, taking to the sky can also involve the sudden onset of a toothache. As the plane climbs into the clouds and levels out, your tooth can suddenly begin to throb. What can be causing this odd problem?
Although it's relatively rare, aerodontalgia is a type of toothache associated with atmospheric decompression. The aircraft cabin is pressurized, but one of your teeth didn't get the memo. When a tiny bubble of air is trapped inside a tooth, this imbalance of pressurization can create a localized decompression. In fact, it's extremely localized and is limited to one of the teeth in your mouth.
Aerodontalgia can occur when a tiny amount of air has become trapped inside a tooth. This will only affect teeth that have received restoration work (namely fillings). Occasionally, the restoration didn't completely fill the required void, and so has led to a small pocket of air beneath its surface. This can also be the case when dental restoration has deteriorated.
Your Dental Pulp
It's not a critical emergency, even though the very words atmospheric decompression can sound alarming. The imbalance of air pressure contained within the tooth means that your dental pulp (the nerve inside the tooth) is being compressed, which has led to your discomfort.
This discomfort must be managed during the flight, and how long you must endure it depends on the length of your flight. Flight attendants can often dispense non-prescription pain relief, so don't be afraid to ask for assistance. Interestingly, the severity of aerodontalgia can also depend on the aircraft. Newer planes have been designed to offer a lower level of cabin pressure, which can be less aggravating for aerodontalgia. Your discomfort should subside once the aircraft descends and lands.
See Your Dentist
The end of your flight isn't necessarily the end of your issue, since you can easily be affected by aerodontalgia the next time you fly. See your dentist as soon as possible to have your restoration work looked at. Explain the issue to them, and it will often be necessary that your filling is removed and reapplied, with no voids beneath it.
Nobody wants to fly while suffering from a toothache, so be sure to see your dentist to prevent the problem from happening again.
Up until a year ago, I did my best to keep my teeth and gums clean. But after securing a new job, I began to work late into the night and didn't have the time or energy to brush and floss before I retired to bed. My busy schedule and poor dental hygiene finally affected my teeth and gums. After experiencing severe pain in several of my teeth, I made an appointment with my dentist. My dentist examined my mouth and discovered three large cavities in my molars. After four long weeks, my dentist finally completed my dental work. I learned a very painful lesson during that time. No matter how busy you are, always brush and floss. I started this blog to inform other people about the importance of good dental care. I hope you find the time to read it. Thanks for visiting.