Why do you get a toothache on an airplane? The answer is simple; pressure! Changes in air pressure can cause your tooth to start hurting on an airplane, in some situations.
Typically, airplanes fly at a height of 30,000 feet or more. At this height, the air is too thin for us to breathe, which is why the cabin of an airplane is pressurized. However, it’s not pressurized to a height of 0 feet, but usually to a height of 6,000 to 8,000 feet.
This means that the air inside a plane is “thinner” than the air at sea level, and it expands slightly. This is why your ears “pop” when you ascend and descend. Your inner and outer ears are attempting to equalize the pressure.
This same phenomenon can affect your tooth. If your tooth has a pocket of air stuck inside of it, the air pocket may try to expand, putting pressure on the nerves below your tooth, and resulting in a toothache!
Getting a toothache on an airplane is actually a big deal, because it means that your tooth may have a cavity, or a failing filling or crown. Healthy teeth don’t have cracks, crevices, or pits where air pockets can form. They’re solid and won’t be affected by changes in air pressure.
But if you have a cavity, or you have a piece of dental work that’s not properly attached to the underlying tooth, air can be trapped below it and cause a toothache.
So, if you find that you frequently get toothaches on airplanes, you should see a dentist right away. You may need a filling for a cavity, or to replace your dental work to eliminate this issue.
You should get treatment as soon as you can. But if you have a flight tomorrow and can’t make time to see Dr. Miller at Sarasota Bay Dental, there are a few things you can do to reduce the pain of a toothache on an airplane.
Medicine like aspirin or acetaminophen may help numb the pain somewhat, or you can Orajel or a similar topical analgesic (pain reliever), which will numb the nearby area and help with your toothache.
However, remember that these treatments are just a short-term fix, not a long-term solution. Getting a toothache on an airplane means something is wrong with your tooth, so you should see a dentist as soon as you can!
As an experienced dentist in Sarasota, Dr. Robert Miller can examine your mouth, determine why you’re getting a toothache on airplanes, and provide you with the treatment you need to restore your tooth and protect your oral health. Contact us online or give us a call at (941) 200-3723 to get started right away.