I Got a Toothache on an Airplane: What Does It Mean?

If you’ve recently been on a flight and experienced a serious toothache on the plane, you may be wondering what happened. Is your mouth okay? Can you really get a toothache from being on an airplane? Do you need to see a dentist?

The team at Scarsdale Smiles, is always happy to help you understand your dental health to keep you informed and confident. 

Yes, Going on an Airplane Can Cause a Toothache! 

If you’ve had a toothache on an airplane, you’re not alone. This is a relatively common phenomenon. So, why does it happen? Simply, because of a change in air pressure!

Airplanes fly at nearly 30,000 feet above the Earth, where the atmosphere is too thin for us to breathe. That’s why plane cabins are pressurized. However, the cabin is not pressurized to sea level, but to a height of about 6,000-8,000 feet above sea level.

As the plane rises and the air inside the cabin becomes thinner, the air expands slightly. This is why your ears “pop” during a flight. The pressure inside and outside your air is being equalized.

The same basic thing can happen to your teeth. If you have a pocket of air inside a tooth due to a cavity or an old filling or crown, the air can become trapped. As the plane rises, it will try to expand, but it will have nowhere to go. In turn, this can put pressure on the nerves below your tooth, resulting in a toothache. 

How Do I Prevent Myself From Getting a Toothache on an Airplane?

See a dentist! If your teeth are healthy, you will not get a toothache on an airplane. This is because, normally, your teeth will not have any kind of air pocket where air can become trapped and cause a toothache.

This only occurs if you have an issue like a cavity or a failing piece of dental work that has caused a gap to form between the dental work and the structure of your tooth. That means that if you notice you have a toothache while flying, you have a more serious oral health issue that should be treated right away.

What Can I Do If I Don't Have Time to See the Dentist Before a Flight? 

If you’re flying soon and worry you won’t have time to see a dentist, you can use over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and aspirin to get relief from pain. Topical pain relievers like Orajel may also help.

However, don’t delay. As soon as you can after your trip, you should see a dentist. A toothache on an airplane always indicates that something else is wrong, and you need to make sure you get the care you need to restore your tooth and prevent this issue from reoccurring in the future.

Get Help After a Toothache on an Airplane – Come to Scarsdale Smiles! 

Dr. Alexander Cox is an experienced restorative dentist. If you’ve had a toothache on an airplane, he can help you get the treatment you need and restore your smile. Get in touch with our team today at (914) 723-1186 or stop by our office at 2 Overhill Road, Suite 230, Scarsdale, NY 10583 to schedule your appointment.