In-Flight Toothaches Explained by Your Rochester Dentist

Have you ever heard of barodontalgia? This is probably a foreign name to most of us, yet many people can relate to painful sensations in their teeth when altitude shifts during an airplane flight. High-altitude toothaches are similar to the way a scuba diver might experience decompression sickness from gas build-up when they descend into the great depths of the ocean. Your Rochester dentist, Dr. Gilly Calcagno, explains how pockets of gas can get inside your teeth when you fly, causing potential discomfort, and even tooth damage.

How Serious is Barodontalgia?

People with fillings, areas of tooth infection, inflammation in the mouth, or particularly deep tooth crevices are the most likely to be afflicted with barodontalgia when they travel. Sudden barometric pressure changes occur in an airplane, which makes gas expand. Ear canals, sinuses, intestines, and other more pliant parts of the body might experience similar discomfort from gas build-up, but most areas are able to expand, and thus avoid permanent damage. Teeth cannot expand, so if the gas pockets are substantial enough in an already weakened tooth, you may find yourself with a dental crisis.

Symptoms and Side Effects of Barodontalgia

If you have a bout with barodontalgia, you’re likely to feel sudden soreness, sensitivity, uncomfortable pressure, and even possibly sharp pain in the teeth. Some people report similar feelings when hiking at an extremely high elevation. Areas of the mouth with caps, crowns, fillings, veneers, or any tooth restorations are most likely to bring on barodontalgia discomfort. In some cases, crowns have been reported to actually pop off during the flight. One good thing about high-pressure toothaches is that they can alert you to cavities that have not been discovered yet. If you experience an ache from altitude shifts that isn’t caused by a previous restoration, make an appointment to see your dentist after you land.

Contact Your Rochester Dentist for an Appointment

There isn’t a specific treatment for high-pressure toothaches, but if you are someone that flies often, taking care of your teeth and gums can reduce your risk. If you have just undergone dental work and you are scheduled to fly, discuss your situation with Dr. Calcagno. To schedule a consultation, contact our Rochester dentist office at (507)281-3659. We are proud to comprehensive dentistry to patients from Rochester, Red Wing, St. Charles, Winona, Farmington, the 55902 zip code, and surrounding communities.