Aerodontalgia among Airline Pilots of India: A Cross-sectional Survey
Sector 26, Surajkund Road, Faridabad, Haryana, India.
Introduction: Barometric pressure-induced dental pain is a clinical entity elicited by atmospheric changes in pressure. Barodontalgia (also known as aerodontalgia) among pilots is of marked interest as it can be a potential flight safety hazard and compromise the personnel’s operational capability and performance. Due to its overlapping signs and symptoms, it may also remain unnoticed and represent itself during a pressure change which may be during ascend or descend of flight.
Aim: To assess presence of barodontalgia and awareness of the phenomenon among commercial pilots based in India.
Materials and Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted from June to August 2020 using self-reported questionnaire submitted via Google forms (Alphabet, Mountain view, CA, USA) among 410 pilots based in India. It consisted of questions inquiring about the occurrence, localisation, intensity and recurrence of in-flight dental pain. Inferential statistics were performed using Chi-square test, One way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Independent t-test. The level of statistical significance was set at 0.05.
Results: A total of 370 pilots responded to the questionnaire with a response rate of 90.24%. The incidence was reported among 10.54% (n=39) pilots although 42.7% (n=158) lacked awareness regarding the same. Only a single case of recurrence of pain was reported while none reported any risk to flight safety or accident, secondary to barodontalgia.
Conclusion: The incidence level of barodontalgia among commercial pilots in India is low. However, the lack of awareness is still an unsettling risk and was not found to be of significant difference when compared on the basis of gender and work experience.