The Dentist Magazine.

Check your teeth before you fly

Published: 27/02/2017

Holidaymakers are being urged to ensure their teeth are in good order before jetting off to foreign climes this summer if they want to avoid potential pain at 30,000ft. 

And flight crews are also being advised to make sure their teeth are in perfect health or they too could suffer while high in the skies.

The warning comes from Richard Coates, a dentist working at award-winning Riveredge Cosmetic Dentistry alongside Ken Harris, one of the UK’s leading cosmetic dentists.

Richard is concerned that many people don’t realise the implications of bad dental health when flying.

People could be putting themselves at risk of searing pain before they even make it to their holiday destination this summer and he advises anyone who thinks they may have a cavity or poorly executed filling to get checked before they leave.

Tooth pain while flying is caused by a condition known as Barodontalgia, which is pain in the teeth experienced during changes in pressure during flying.

First documented by World War II pilots, it is caused by small, air-filled pockets which can exist inside a cracked tooth, in a tooth where the filling is starting to fail or is poorly restored and in cases where a chronic abscess is lurking beneath.

“The change in pressure experienced during flying can cause these air pockets to expand, causing very intense pain,” explained Richard.

“This is especially common at heights above 9,000ft and, bearing in mind that commercial aircraft fly at 30,000ft, this is a problem which can affect anyone who is taking a flight this summer.

“Pilots of fighter aircrafts are also subject to the risk of Barodontalgia – they call it ‘tooth squeeze’ – and it is such a painful condition that it is considered severe enough to affect flight safety.”

Richard Coates is now advising anyone who is planning to fly this summer to get checked out by their dentist before they go, to remove any risk of a flare-up.

“It is critical that teeth are restored with advanced techniques in composite or porcelain bonding in order to rectify these problems and regular consultations with your dental professional are advised to monitor existing restorations or cracks.

“When it comes to getting ready for a holiday or trip, the last things people worry about are their teeth, but anyone who has had the misfortune to suffer with Barodontalgia would tell you otherwise.

“It is a very painful condition and can ruin a holiday before it’s even begun, so I would advise everyone to book in to see their dentist a couple of months before they are due to fly to eliminate any problems before they occur.”

For further information visit www.riveredge.co.uk or call 0191 567 1020.