It is a popular practice to fly abroad and get dental work done due to lower prices in some countries.
I recently got a tooth removed and was thinking about how long you may have to wait to avoid any pain or damages after teeth removal.
Can You Travel After Teeth Removal? You should not have issues traveling by car or any form of ground transportation after teeth extraction. Traveling by plane can cause irritations and pain, and it is suggested that you wait at least 48 hours before traveling. It is safe to travel right after extraction, but it is recommended to wait for pain maintenance.
This article maps out why you should consider waiting to travel after teeth extraction and what you can do if you do experience pain while traveling.
Waiting to travel after having your teeth removed will make your trip much more enjoyable and avoid complications.
There is nothing worse than sickness or discomfort on vacation, and waiting can prevent this from happening.
So, Can You Travel After Teeth Removal?
Having your teeth removed leaves an open wound that needs to be healed. This process usually takes one to two weeks to heal completely. There is no medical reason that one cannot fly right after tooth extraction, but the pain associated with flying can be overwhelming to many people. This has to do with the pressure associated with flying at high altitudes.
For anyone flying on a plane, they could experience symptoms of headache, sinus pain, and toothache. This occurs because of a change in altitude as well as cabin pressure. These symptoms may be even worse for someone that has recently had dental work done or had teeth removed. Allowing your mouth to start the healing process at ground level is less painful.
NOTE: Dentists suggest that you wait at least 48 hours before flying to avoid painful symptoms associated with a change in cabin pressure. They even recommend waiting longer (5-7 days) for root canal procedures to avoid post-operative pain.
There is no medical risk of flying immediately after having teeth extracted, just potential for pain.
The only risk with traveling immediately after tooth extraction is complications that may be experienced. Complications are most likely to occur 24-72 hours after a procedure. This may include infections and other immediate issues, but many do not experience these symptoms. Waiting to fly is mainly recommended for pain and easier recovery care.
Why You Might Want To Wait To Fly
While there are no incredible risks associated with flying or traveling after tooth removal, most people do take time to recover and heal with or without travel.
The at-home care routine may be a bit more cumbersome on a plane and while traveling than it would be at home.
Handling pain and dealing with the recovery process at a lower altitude will be easier right after removal.
There are multiple recovery steps you should follow that may make waiting better:
- Risk of infection: There is risk associated with infection after having teeth removed. This increases the pain of your removal on the ground and will definitely be uncomfortable in the air. Waiting to fly may be best in case they become infected, and you can quickly see your dentist or get the necessary antibiotics to treat the infection.
- Consistent changing of gauze: The pocket where your tooth sat before removal will bleed, and gauze (medical cloth material) will be necessary to help stop bleeding and form blood clots. You will be required to change these often throughout the day to allow for proper blood and saliva absorption and keep your mouth clean. This may be more troublesome on flights, especially long ones.
- Salt water gargling: You will have to gargle warm salt water after the removal of teeth to keep sockets clean and prevent infection. You’ll be making many trips to the bathroom on a plane and may not have access to hot water. This should be done after the first 24 hours and lightly to avoid breaking forming blood clots.
- Sinus inflammation: Some people experience sinus inflammation after having teeth removed, especially wisdom teeth. This may include congestion and pain or discomfort in sinus areas. This is uncomfortable but may be combatted with anti-inflammatories and decongestants.
- Icing: Especially for wisdom teeth removal, it is recommended that you regularly ice the areas to keep inflammation down and mitigate pain. Reducing swelling may speed up the recovery process.
It is nearly impossible to know if one individual will experience symptoms related to tooth extraction. This is dependent on the pain tolerance and tooth sensitivity of the person.
Many people need a day or two to recover from having their teeth removed, while others can go on with their normal routine.
If you have a low pain tolerance, consider waiting to fly.
How to Deal With Pain On A Flight
Whether you decide to wait or not, it will be helpful to know what to do if you experience pain. There are some items you can bring with you on a flight to prepare for potential pain and discomfort.
Make sure to have these on you when flying or traveling after tooth extraction:
- Anti-inflammatory medication: You will want to bring some type of pain reliever or anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and prevent pain that occurs with tooth extraction. Having this on a flight may be even more necessary for the mentioned changes in cabin pressure and altitude. Ibuprofen is a common pain reliever for these types of procedures.
- Stay hydrated (with water): You will want to avoid hot, cold, and acidic foods and liquids right after having teeth removed. These can cause irritations with the newly opened sockets and forming blood clots. Packing a reusable water bottle is a good idea to make sure you stay hydrated but also have something to drink that will not impact your sockets.
- Ice pack/bag: You will want to ice consistently after removal. Bring a Ziploc or plastic bag. The flight attendants should be able to fill it with ice for you. You can also ask for ice at restaurants in airports.
These are the most common remedies for teeth removal that can be easily achieved on an airplane and during travel.
Having these accessible to you will make your trip much more comfortable and manageable. Your dentist will have specific recommendations for pain relievers and any antibiotics they may want you on to avoid infections.
Recovery Steps are Crucial During Travel
While it is safe to fly and travel, even though you may experience pain, taking the necessary recovery steps are essential.
Having teeth removed can expose bones and nerve endings that are susceptible to infection.
This is especially true if you are having your wisdom teeth removed.
As mentioned, the most important recovery steps are:
- Consistent changing of gauze (every 40 minutes or so to manage bleeding)
- Gargling salt water (after 24 hours to reduce risks of infection)
- Icing inflamed areas (30 minutes on, 30 minutes off)
- Eating lukewarm and soft foods to avoid build up in pockets
- Taking prescribed medications
REMEMBER: Follow these steps to avoid infection and dry socket.
Dry socket occurs when the blood clot that forms after tooth removal is broken or dissolves. This leaves the bone and nerve endings exposed.
Symptoms of dry socket include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Bad breath
- A bad taste in your mouth
- Possible visibility of the bone in the socket.
Dry socket is one of the most common complications experienced after tooth extraction and even more common with wisdom teeth removal.
This is common for all patients, and risks may be increased with someone traveling or flying as they may find it more difficult to adhere to all the recovery steps.
If you do travel, it is crucial that you follow these same procedures.
Should You Travel After Tooth Extraction?
Flying or traveling will not interfere with the healing process of tooth extraction. This makes it completely safe to travel immediately after having teeth removed.
It is recommended to wait for the likely pain that develops after having these procedures done. Dentists recommend waiting upwards of 48 hours before traveling to avoid pain and complications.
It is ultimately your decision in choosing to travel before the recommended 48 hours. This should be based on knowing your pain tolerance and if you are susceptible to teeth sensitivity.
You can also talk to your dentist to see what they recommend based on your individual procedure and situation. The only real risks result from improper recovery care and discomfort.
Make sure you follow all the necessary recovery steps to prevent complications and avoid infection. If you do not mind the potentially painful experience of traveling after tooth extraction or need to get somewhere, you should not fear it having any impact on your health or safety! Happy traveling!