Does Altitude Affect Tooth Decay?
Altitudes in Colorado can reach over 6,000 feet above sea level. This can affect the human body in ways we may never ponder. Some of the effects of altitude are good — high altitude can help the body burn more fat and use more calories. However, for those who are new to Colorado, the high altitude can cause dizziness, nausea and headaches.
And, a change to a higher altitude can cause tooth pain, a condition called barodontalgia. Read on for some facts about barodontalgia, thanks to Dr. Gary Moore and the team at Stetson Hills Dental.
What causes barodontalgia?
Barodontalgia is a toothache that is caused by a change in air pressure, whether this change is to a higher altitude or a lower altitude. This pain may be a sharp, stabbing pain, or it may be an uncomfortable feeling of pressure in the tooth. Your teeth may be sensitive or sore when you are at an altitude you haven’t been before now.
The pain can be caused by air trapped in a filling or cavity in a tooth. Changes in pressure cause this air to expand, which puts pressure on the tooth and any dental work it has. It can affect those who fly (pilots call it “flyer’s toothache) or those who like to scuba dive (who call it “tooth squeeze”).
This condition is often a sign of other dental problems, such as tooth decay or an infection. In fact, this may be a benefit of barodontalgia. It alerts the patients that something may be wrong with their teeth so that they visit their dentist for treatment.
If you have had a recent tooth extraction or filling, a change in altitude can exacerbate the pain in the tooth or in the empty tooth socket. High pressure can cause a filling to come out of a tooth. If you’ve had recent dental work, you may want to postpone flying or scuba diving.
What can be done about barodontalgia?
When the patient returns to sea level, the pain in the tooth will most likely go away. However, if you’ve noticed tooth pain when you are at a different altitude, you should see your dentist to make sure that your teeth are healthy.
You can prevent barodontalgia by keeping up with good oral health habits — brush twice a day, floss once a day, and make sure you visit Dr. Moore twice a year for exams and cleanings.
If you often have to endure changes in altitude (such as a pilot might), you should make sure to take care of your teeth and see your dentist if you notice symptoms of barodontalgia. The pain of this condition can be so unbearable that it may be a safety hazard.
Pilots and crews of airlines, high-altitude mountaineers, and scuba divers are most susceptible to barodontalgia, but if you are new to Colorado you may have noticed some tooth pain. Call Dr. Moore and the staff at Stetson Hills Dental! They can diagnose the reason for the pain and help you to find relief! Call (719) 694-0400 today!