Our Calgary Dentist Answers Whether It’s Safe to Fly After a Tooth Extraction

Our Calgary Dentist Answers Whether It’s Safe to Fly After a Tooth Extraction

There’s no doubt that this has been a very difficult year for everyone in many ways.  With vaccination campaigns well under way, we all have hope that normalcy is on the horizon and we can get back to some of the things that we love and miss, like travelling!  One of the questions that our Calgary dentist gets from time to time is whether it is safe to fly after having dental work, and in particular, after having a tooth extraction.  Our Calgary dentist explains whether flying after having a tooth extraction is safe and has some tips and tricks to keep your smiling so you can enjoy your trip, even after having dental work.


Let’s face it.  No one ever really feels like it’s a good or convenient time to have a tooth extracted by your Calgary dentist. Unfortunately, despite the best laid plans, sometimes an unexpected toothache necessitates a trip to your Calgary dentist. If your tooth can’t be saved and you’re in pain, a tooth extraction may be necessary sooner rather than later, even if it means having it pulled by your Calgary dentist just before you need to board a plane. So what does this mean?  Can you still take that long awaited and deserved vacation?   

According to our Calgary dentist, Dr. Dirk Thompson, D.D.S., after having a tooth extraction, you can expect to experience some bleeding, pain and discomfort for approximately 24 to 48 hours. Because of the recovery time after having one or more teeth extracted, our Calgary dentist recommends that, if possible, you delay taking a flight until 24 to 48 hours after your tooth extraction. If, however, your flight is booked and you’re determined to jet off (and why wouldn’t you be!), our Calgary dentist advises that, although in most circumstances it is technically safe to take a plane after a tooth extraction, you should take some extra precautions to make your flight as comfortable as possible.


Although it is technically safe in most circumstances to fly after a tooth extraction by your Calgary dentist, you may experience some additional pain and discomfort due to the unavoidable conditions in an airplane.  If you have ever flown before, it’s likely that, even when healthy you have experienced the uncomfortable and sometimes even painful feeling of intense pressure in your ears.  When the airplane is changing altitude, you may have also experienced a pressure headache or even a toothache in a tooth that has never caused you pain previously.  The biggest concern for someone who just had dental work completed is sinus pain caused by the change in cabin pressure and altitude.  If you have just had a tooth extraction by your Calgary dentist and the tooth extraction site has not yet had a chance to heal, the change in altitude and cabin pressure may intensify any pain or discomfort you already feel in and around the tooth extraction site.


If you are expecting to take a plane within the first few days after your tooth extraction, make sure you let your Calgary dentist know of your plans so that they can advise you of all of the risks of undergoing a dental procedure, and in particular, a dental extraction, in the days prior to taking a plane.  Before getting on the plane, our Calgary dentist recommends taking the following simple steps to prepare for your flight:

  • Medication.  Make sure you take with you in your carry-on bag any pain medication or antibiotics that may have been prescribed by your Calgary dentist. If your Calgary dentist did not prescribe any pain medication, be sure to take some over the counter pain medication such as an anti-inflammatory (like Advil) or Tylenol.  Ask your Calgary dentist about taking the pain medication prior to boarding the plane as a prophylactic measure.
  • Ice Pack.  If you are still experiencing any pain or swelling after your tooth extraction, our Calgary dentist recommends that you a pack small, resealable plastic bag in your carry-on bag.  If necessary, during the flight you can ask your flight attendant for a cup of ice and fill the bag with ice.  Our Calgary dentist advises that you should wrap the plastic bag in a napkin so as to not damage the skin on your face.  Place the bag of ice on the area of swelling or discomfort at ten minute intervals.
  • Extra Guaze.  Be sure to ask your Calgary dentist for extra gauze that you can take on your flight in the event that the tooth extraction site starts to bleed, particularly if you are boarding the plane during the window of time when there is still a risk that your tooth extraction site may still be susceptible to bleeding.
  • A Water Bottle.  After your tooth extraction, your Calgary dentist will likely recommend that you avoid any foods or beverages that are very hot, very cold or acidic, like coffee or tea.  Drinking warm water in the days after your tooth extraction will not only keep your discomfort levels down, but it will also help you to keep hydrated during your plane flight.  
  • Your Calgary Dentist’s Phone Number. If you do experience any unexpected pain, swelling or bleeding during your flight or at any time during your time away from home, make sure you have your Calgary dentist’s office and emergency phone numbers handy.  Our Calgary dentist always provides an after-hours contact number in the event you experience a dental emergency or have any questions or concerns after your dental procedure. 
  • Skip the Airplane Pretzels. After a tooth extraction, our Calgary dentist recommends sticking to soft foods to avoid any trauma to the area of the extraction site.  Because hard or crunchy foods may dislodge the clot in the tooth extraction site and cause a dry socket, it’s important to be exta careful.  Due to the limited food choices available on a flight, our Calgary dentist recommends that you pick up some soft food prior to boarding, such as a yogurt cup, a cup of soup (not too hot!) or a smoothie. 


If possible, our Calgary dentist recommends that you wait at least one week after your tooth extraction prior to taking a flight. By not having any dental procedures in the days prior to travelling, you may not only avoid any additional pain or discomfort, you also decrease the risk of any unexpected dental events while you are away which may be more difficult to deal with.  If you are planning to travel, make sure you speak with your Calgary dentist so that they can provide you with advice and recommendations so you can be as prepared as possible and mitigate any potential unexpected concerns.

Our Calgary dentist is always here to answer any questions you may have about your and your family’s dental health.  We are happy to answer any questions you may have over the phone or by email.  We are also always happy to see you in person for a consultation appointment.  If you would like to speak with our Calgary dentist or one of your friendly dental team members about cosmetic dentistry, emergency dentistry, sedation dentistry, general dentistry or implant dentistry, call us at 403.283.4252.  We’re here for you and your smile!

This blog post written by our Calgary dentist, Dr. Dirk Thompson, D.D.S., is for informational purposes only.  It is not to be taken or used as a substitute for dental, medical or other professional advice, treatment or diagnosis.  Always ask your dentist, physician or other healthcare professional for advice before altering your diet or healthcare routine.  Individual patient needs and oral healthcare concerns vary so please consult your dentist for more information about your specific dental health requirements.

Copyright 2021: Dirk A. Thompson Professional Corporation operating as Advance Your Health Dental.  Dr. Dirk A. Thompson, D.D.S., is a general dentist in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

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