Dental problems can become more apparent or exacerbated underwater. Researchers have found that the most common problem reported by divers was “barodontalgia.” More popularly known as “tooth squeeze,” barodontalgia is the experience of a squeezing sensation or pain in teeth that occurs as changing air pressure forces any pockets of air in teeth (such as those found in untreated cavities) to expand and contract. Other divers reported jaw and gum pain, which was most likely caused by clenching hard on the mouthpiece, as well as the loosening of crowns. With this in mind, those planning on scuba diving are advised to visit the dentist first to help avoid “diver’s mouth syndrome.”
According to the Academy of General Dentistry, scuba divers with the following dental conditions are more likely to experience issues while diving:
- Untreated decay – air pockets expand in changing air pressure – causing pain and potentially cracked or broken teeth
- Unfinished root canals – have your root canal completed before you dive. Changing air pressure can – in rare cases, cause a tooth to explode.
- Partial or complete dentures – aside from making it difficult to hold the mouthpiece, ill-fitting dentures or partials can dislodge and become a choking hazard
- Improperly fitting fillings or crowns – air pressure changes can cause loose crowns and fillings
- TMJ issues – the pressure you place on your mouthpiece can cause strain on your jaw. Make a conscious effort to relax your jaw and choose a customized mouthpiece that fits well to reduce this pressure.
So, if you’re heading out to explore underwater, ensure you’ve had a dental checkup with special attention paid to these areas. Mention to your dentist you’re going for a dive and wait at least 24 hours after having any dental work completed before enjoying your dive.
Having regular dental care and being in optimal oral health is one way to ensure you can drop everything and go on the dive trip. For excellence in dental care from a compassionate staff committed to your comfort, well-being, and sunny smile, call Batavia Family Dental for an appointment. Those looking for preventive dental care in Batavia, NY are always welcome at our full-service, state-of-the-art dental office, located at 6 Batavia City Centre. Please contact us today. We accept most insurances.
Yours in excellent dental health,
Dr. Steve Sokolovskiy, Batavia Family Dental
P.S. Scuba divers may want their dentists to evaluate their mouthpieces for fit and even distribution of biting pressure.