The body responds to pressure changes in different ways, but the feeling of a change in pressure is similar – discomfort! If you’ve ever gone scuba diving, you may have felt an increase of pressure on your entire body as you dive beneath the sea. Likewise, when you’re on an airplane and the plane height increases you may feel a similar increase of this pressure sensation. As the pressure against your body changes, you may feel what is known as barotraumas or, simply, the “squeeze.”
The body is filled with air pockets that can feel the effects of atmospheric pressure. Teeth that have an air pocket under a filling or unknown tooth decay are susceptible to the squeeze. While it’s pretty easy to help your ears “pop” to relieve pressure on a flight, it’s a bit more difficult if you have air trapped in a tooth! Unfortunately, many people don’t know they have air caught in their teeth until the pressure changes.
Because Colorado is at a higher elevation, the atmospheric or environmental pressure is greater, and you can experience increased toothache or pain. This discomfort (known as barodontalgia) is aggravated by higher elevations and is usually accompanied by a pre-existing dental issue. The pain may be stabbing, sharp or a feeling of pressure in a tooth. You may have never experienced the discomfort before when it all of a sudden comes on.
If air gets trapped inside a filling, this air will expand, which then puts pressure on the tooth. A similar uncomfortable feeling can occur within a tooth that has decay, an abscess, or because of a crack in the tooth. This buildup of pressure can is a good indicator something is wrong!
While the toothache pain you may feel when you’re flying to a vacation spot can stop when you land, don’t think it’s cured itself and all is better! If you are suffering from a toothache that appears with a change in altitude, consult a dentist to find out the underlying cause.
Whether you are new to Colorado or have been here for years, if you suddenly experience a toothache, contact us! We can give you a check-up and any necessary treatment that will help you feel better, avoid future pain, and get on with enjoying a Colorado lifestyle!