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What does the weather have to do with my toothache?

Scientists in Austria have made an intriguing connection between the weather and the amount of tooth pain reported by patients at emergency dental clinics.

As all emergency dentists know, the number of patients who book emergency appointments can vary wildly from day to day. Scientists have also known for a long time that deep sea divers and airline pilots, both of whom experience unusual air pressure conditions, tend to report increased dental pain.

The Austrian scientists designed an experiment that would show that perceptions of tooth pain depend on the weather. The scientists interviewed patients who had gone to a dental emergency clinic in Innsbruck, Austria, from January to March 2005. They also looked at local weather records for the same time period, specifically the average air pressure for each day and the actual air pressure for each day. The scientists then compared the air pressure data for each day with the amount of tooth pain reported by patients.

It turns out that there is a correlation between deviations in air pressure and the amount of tooth pain reported. In other words, if the air pressure for a given day deviates significantly from the norm, then the level of dental pain that is reported increases accordingly.

Source: “Epidemiologic evidence of barometric pressure changes inducing increased reporting of oral pain.” Kloss-Brandstätter, Anita. Hächl, Oliver. Leitgeb, Philip C. Buchner, Andreas. Coassin, Stefan. Rasse, Michael. Kronenberg, Florian. Kloss, Frank R. European journal of pain. 2011 Sep;15(8):880-4.