How Changes in Pressure Cause Tooth Squeeze

How Changes in Pressure Cause Tooth Squeeze
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How Changes in Pressure Cause Tooth SqueezeClinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. Causes
  2. Symptoms
  3. Treatment
  4. Diagnosis
  5. Prevention
  6. When to See a Doctor
  7. References

Tooth squeeze, also known as barodontalgia, is mouth and tooth pain evoked by changes in atmospheric pressure. It is common among divers and people who are frequently airborne. When a change in pressure results in tooth injury and pain, the condition is known as barotrauma.

Similarly, tooth squeeze can also accompany a condition known as barosinusitis, which is the inflammation of paranasal sinuses. The sinus cavities located in a person’s skull, and their inflammation results when one subjects their body to a significant change in pressure.

Causes of Tooth Squeeze

You will experience tooth squeeze when your body experiences rapid high or low-pressure changes. In scuba diving and aviation, pressure changes will affect you in different ways.

Pressure Changes for Scuba Divers

Tooth Squeeze occurs when one descends into deeper waters. It can also happen during ascent when one resurfaces.

As you dive, your body is subject to a pressure higher than that experienced on land. This high-pressure air affects airspaces inside teeth. Such airspaces form mainly because of insufficient dental fillings.

As you dive further into deeper waters, thes air will exert further force on the teeth structures, leading to pain in the teeth.

Pressure Changes for Flyers

There is a pressure reduction during flights as the aircraft moves towards higher altitudes. With the decrease, one might experience tooth pain. That’s because the air inside your tooth has no space to expand, causing air pressure imbalance.

You will likely experience tooth pain in unpressurized cabins than pressurized ones. Some other factors have a link to barodontalgia, including:

  • Tooth decay leads to the formation of holes in teeth
  • Faulty dental restorations that result in airspaces
  • History of recent surgery
  • Swellings that form on the tips of teeth (dental cysts)
  • Pulpitis, a condition where the innermost part of a tooth (pulp) gets inflamed.

Symptoms of Tooth Squeeze

In most cases, tooth squeeze is more of a symptom than a disease.

It presents as a symptom for different dental disorders, such as an inflammatory cyst.

There are different types of symptoms you might show when you have barodontalgia. Symptoms depend on the cause of the tooth squeeze. Some symptoms one might experience include:

  • Sharp pain when moving towards higher altitudes
  • Pain in the teeth, jaw and gums
  • Severe adamant pain during descent or ascent
  • Tooth sensitivity occur
  • Broken fillings
  • Loosened tooth crowns
  • Bleeding gums

Treatment of Teeth Squeeze

The best way to treat teeth squeezing is by eradicating dental condition that cause it. The dentist can treat tooth squeeze to fix a variety of issues, including fillings, crowns and root canals.

Proper Crown Cementing

A dentist will carry out this procedure when loose teeth cause tooth pain. It involves tight fixation of false teeth to the jaw bone, which will prevent their dislodgement.

Resin cement is the best for cementing teeth of underwater divers and pilots because of its ability to resist pressure changes.

Use of Tooth Fillings
They re-fill the spaces resulting from tooth decay. Sealing off these spaces will prevent air entrapment, thus treating barodontalgia.
Root Canal Treatment
Root filling or root canal treatment is a regimen done on teeth affected by pulpitis. This condition results in inflammation of the inner tissues of teeth (pulp). If pulpitis causes barodontalgia, dental periodontics treat it using root fillings.
Pain Management
In other cases, a person might have a mild form of tooth squeeze needing no medical intervention. If this is the case, the dentist will prescribe drugs for you to ease the pain. Ibuprofen is the standard drug used in treating dental pain.

Diagnosis of Tooth Squeeze

If a physician suspects that you have barodontalgia, they will perform a diagnostic treatment. The dentist first will ask you to describe the intensity of the tooth pain using a 0 to 10 Numerical rating scale. For example, zero means no pain, and 10 is the worst pain.

The doctor will also ask about your medical history. It will help confirm if the pain is due to a side effect of the drugs you had taken before or not.

Tooth Examination

The physician can also examine your teeth to identify the cause of the tooth pain. They can conduct a clinical or a radiographic examination.

  • Clinical examination: The doctor will physically check your teeth using their eyes. They will then try to look for problems such as dental carries causing the tooth squeeze.
  • Radiographic examination: It involves an X-ray to view the internal structures of the teeth. Doctors use it is to examine parts such as tooth roots that are invisible during a physical examination.

Prevention of Barodontalgia

The best way to avoid tooth squeeze is to maintain your teeth. Having healthy teeth will help keep dental diseases that cause barodontalgia at bay. It also helps if you practice the following:

  • Dental Checkups: A regular visit to the dentist is crucial when preventing barodontalgia. The dentist will check the dental restorations making sure they are healthy. They will also check your teeth, ensuring they are not affected by any dental diseases.
  • Scuba Diving and Flight restrictions: Avoid flying or diving immediately after getting dental restorations as it helps prevent tooth dislodgement, which causes tooth squeeze.
  • Maintaining oral health: Daily brushing and flossing of teeth will also help avert barodontalgia. It reduces the occurrence of oral infections that causes the condition.

When to See a Doctor

Experts advise you to see the dentist when you start having tooth pain while flying or diving. Seek medical advice even if the pain ceases after returning to the land surface because the cause for the tooth pain could be due to an underlying oral disease.


Barodontalgia. (April 2009). National Library of Medicine.

Dental Restoration Dislodgment and Fracture During Scuba Diving: A Case of Barotrauma. (September 2009). ScienceDirect.

Medical definition of Barosinusistis. (June 2021). MedicineNet.

Barodontalgia: caught between the louds and the waves. (Fall 2002). National Library of Medicine.

EIOH to Study How Pressure Changes During SCUBA Diving Affect Teeth. (February 2016). University of Rochester Medical Center. 

Epidemiologic evidence of barometric pressure changes inducing increased reporting of oral pain. (September 2011.) ScienceDirect.

Barodontalgia: what have we learned in the past decade. (April 2010). National Library of Medicine.

Barodontalgia due to odontogenic inflammation in the jawbone. (August 2006). National Library of Medicine.

First Stop for Scuba Divers: The Dentist’s Office? (January 2017). MedicineNet.

Crown Cementing Strategy for Naval Divers. (January 2010). ScienceDirect.

Incidence and possible causes of dental pain during simulated high altitude flights. (March 1993). National Library of Medicine. 

Ibuprofen Drug Facts Label. (April 2016). U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

Pathophysiology of Barodontalgia: A Case Report and Review of the Literature. (December 2012). National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Aviation Dentistry. (March 2014). National Center for Biotechnology Information.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.