Barodontalgia: Causes And Management Aboard An Airplane

Posted on: 22 July 2015

According to the Medical Dictionary, barodontaglia is a pain in the soft tissues of the mouth caused by the difference between atmospheric pressure and the air pressure inside a tooth. It is the common cause of dental pain that people experience (without warning) in airplanes. If you have ever experienced it, then you understand just how painful it can be.


As explained in the introduction, the pain occurs because the pressure of the air inside your tooth is trying to adjust to the air pressure outside. This means you may not feel any pain if you don't have a pocket of air in your tooth. But how does air get into your tooth in the first instance? The two main ways are:

  • Tooth decay – tooth decay erodes a portion of your tooth. This leads microscopic voids in your tooth cavities, which can be occupied by air.
  • Dental work – dental work, such as a tooth filling, may trap air between it and your tooth. Old dental work may also have microscopic holes just like your teeth, and this may be filled with air.

Most of the pieces of advice related to barodontaglia are concerned with preventing the condition from occurring in the first place. An example of these measures is to visit your dentist to have your dental work checked, and dental conditions treated. The advice is good, but it won't help you much if you are already on the plane (and possible feeling the pain).

In this case, you should avoid these meals:

  • Hard foods – eating will be painful, but hard foods will be worse. If it's a short flight, then just avoid eating until you land. Otherwise, stick to soft foods such as smoothies, yogurt or cheese.
  • Hot drinks – high temperatures always seem to make dental pain worse, and it's true in the case of barodontaglia too. So skip the coffee and tea; they will just make your pain worse.

Apart from avoiding the above foods, taking painkillers (if you have them) or staying hydrated may also help. Just make sure that the water you are drinking is at room temperature so as not to increase your level of pain.

Don't forget that barodontaglia is a symptom rather than a dental condition. It means that you have a dental problem that you should take care of. Therefore, you should schedule a dental appointment when you land so that the dentist can diagnose and correct the condition.

To learn more, contact a dental clinic like Accent On Dentistry - Rowena R Martir DMD