Flying soon after a dental procedure can be very painful. The pressure changes in the cabin introduce tiny pockets of air into your teeth. When the cabin pressure rises, pressure builds up in your teeth and causes unbearable pain. Luckily, there are steps you can take before, during and after the flight to deal with the expected complications.

Before Flying

You can prepare for your flight by:

  • Consulting your dentist – the dentist will confirm that your dental work was a success, and whether you can fly. Ask the dentist about painkillers you can take to deaden the pain.
  • Carrying pieces of gauze – your teeth are likely to bleed after a dental surgery, whether or not you fly. Therefore, you should arm yourself with enough pieces of gauze to use for the blood. Get an aisle seat because you will be making frequent trips to the bathroom to change your gauze.
  • Taking a painkiller – your dentist may have prescribed a painkiller: take it a few minutes before your flight. That way it can get into your system before you take off. If you don't have a prescription painkiller, take an over the counter variety.

During the Flight

The preparations above may not eliminate all your dental pain, so you should take further precautions during the flight. Specifically, you should:

  • Eat only soft foods (such as soup, smoothies or yogurt) so as not to stress your jaw or teeth too much.
  • Avoid hot drinks (such as coffee or tea) that will only intensify the pain.
  • Clear your sinuses. Your upper jaw and sinuses have some common nerves. This means sinus pain due to changes in cabin pressure can be felt in the jaw (and you can confuse it with dental pain). Try plugging your nose and gently blowing out, chewing gum or yawning.
  • Be comfortable – discomfort will magnify your pain. Try to be as comfortable as possible by staying hydrated, reclining your seat, or even using a neck rest.

After the Flight

If your dental condition gets really bad during the flight, and it doesn't abate when you land, then you should consider seeing a dentist in your destination area. It might be that you developed an infection too, especially if it was a long flight. This is likely to be the case if you develop a fever, swelling in the gums or decreased taste sensation.

These measures may not eliminate all pain, but they will make your flight more bearable than it would be without any preparation. The good news is that, apart from the pain, flying will not make your dental problem worse or prolong the recovery period. Talk to your dentist, such as Associated Family Dentistry LTD, for more information.