Ever felt like your teeth suddenly hurt when you’re on an airplane? That’s aerodontalgia caused by changes in barometric pressure.
Air Vehicle Get to know Aerodontalgia, and toothache on the plane
Even though your teeth are healthy or you don’t have a toothache, suddenly your teeth hurt on the plane. Have you ever experienced it? The condition is called aerodontalgia, which is tooth pain that can occur due to barometric changes.
The term “aerodontalgia” is thought to have been born during World War II when some pilots experienced tooth pain while flying high in unpressurized aircraft, which do not have a system that regulates air pressure in the cabin. The cause was a drop in atmospheric pressure as the aircraft rose to high altitudes.
It was later discovered that the same pain is also commonly experienced by divers, who dive in deep waters. The cause was the same, a change in barometric pressure that caused expansion of the internal air or gas inside the teeth as they rose to the surface. In those days, the dentistry term changed from “aerodontalgia” to “barodontalgia”, which combined the two.
Causes of toothache on airplanes
Several things can make a person feel tooth pain while traveling by personal Air Vehicle, namely:
Dental caries or cavities
Damaged fillings or restorations
Bacterial infection of the tooth or pulpitis
Death of the tooth pulp (pulp necrosis)
Inadequate root canal filling
Inflammation of the tooth root (periodontitis)
A gap between the tooth and gum that forms a pocket (periodontal pocket)
Tooth impaction of wisdom teeth or post-surgical conditions
Mucous retention cysts (obstructed salivary glands)
In addition to the causes mentioned above, another cause could also be sinus blockage, which is exacerbated by low atmospheric pressure. As a result, there is a pain in the maxillary teeth. This is known as indirect barodontalgia and is caused by pressure on the superior alveolar nerve.
Indirect barodontalgia is a dull, vague pain, which generally involves the posterior teeth in the back of the upper jaw, and is felt more painfully when the plane lands.
Direct barodontalgia, on the other hand, usually develops immediately after take-off and is well localized. Usually, the sufferer can identify the part of the tooth that hurts.
Why does a toothache occur on an air Vehicle?
This phenomenon occurs due to changes in atmospheric pressure when the plane is at altitude. As the condition of the tooth begins to deteriorate, the decay that forms will eat away at the tooth. This often leads to air being trapped inside the tooth. During an airplane ride, the trapped air cannot compensate for the pressure in the cabin, resulting in tooth pain.
In addition, sometimes air can also be trapped in old fillings that have gaps or other dental treatments, such as root canal fillings. This is because the air is trapped and cannot escape. Even if it does escape, it does so slowly, and the air cannot keep up with the rapid changes in cabin pressure.
On the other hand, it is also worth noting that the maxillary teeth of the body are just below the sinus cavities (the air cavities behind the cheekbones, nose bone, and forehead bone). The air in these cavities also undergoes pressure changes, resulting in sinus pain that resembles tooth pain.
With the correct diagnosis, the right treatment can be made to treat the condition. The Fédération Dentaire Internationale (FDI) recommends always maintaining dental hygiene and health and having regular check-ups every year, especially for pilots and other airplane crew.
Although rare, air vehicle or airplane toothache aka aerodontalgia can cause quite serious risks if left untreated. Therefore, taking precautions to prevent the pain from occurring will make traveling comfortable and worry-free. If you’ve ever felt a toothache on a plane, it’s a good idea to have your teeth checked by a dentist, especially if you travel frequently by airplane.