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Samuel John

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Published on: 01 Mar 2017 by samuel

Divers risking sore teeth

Diving and dentistry don't have any connection that readily comes to mind. That is unless you happen to be a scuba diver who has found out the hard way that there is indeed a connection, and a painful one at that. A recent survey among a sizeable number of scuba divers has revealed that over 40% of them have experienced painful teeth or jaw symptoms during or after a dive. Further investigation also revealed several main causes for those symptoms.

The most common symptom is 'tooth squeeze' or barodontalgia to give it its technical name. It's the feeling of the teeth being squeezed, and its severity can range from mild discomfort to being agonisingly painful. Other reported symptoms are bleeding of the gums or even tooth fracture. The cause of these symptom is changes in air pressure at varying depth, and any tooth cavities in decayed teeth or even in previously treated teeth are susceptible to this condition. When the diver ascends, any pressurised air that has entered those cavities expands in volume and painfully pushes against the surrounding tooth. An equally painful, but rarer, condition can occur during a descent where air in the cavity is compressed causing a partial vacuum, which pulls against the walls of the cavity.

Other symptoms reported can be attributed to different causes. After a dive, pain in the teeth and jaw may be caused by biting down too hard on the air regulator without realising it. Sinus squeeze is yet another, pressure-related condition. In this case, blocked sinuses are the problem. They limit the diver's ability to equalise pressure changes, which, in turn, can cause pain to the face and upper teeth.

In all cases of experiencing pain in the teeth or jaw during or following a diving session, it's recommended that divers seek professional advice from a dentist. While pain killers like ibuprofen or paracetamol can help, they're obviously not a cure. A dentist can assess the problem and carry out corrective treatment to fill cavities or perform other procedures in attempt to alleviate the condition. Alternatively, where the symptoms are due to sinus problems, the dentist can refer sufferers to an ear, nose and throat specialist for treatment.

Experienced divers and even diving instructors aren't immune to such painful pressure-related symptoms. In fact, diving instructors are even more susceptible as they're constantly changing depth while assisting others as part of their work, so they experience pressure changes more frequently.


With the causes of painful teeth symptoms now firmly established by the dental profession, the advice to all scuba divers is to have their teeth checked and ensure there are no underlying problems that may cause pain or other problems during or after a dive. There are even calls to enforce good dental health among diving instructors as part of their certification. A diving instructor who suddenly suffers a debilitating bout of severe pain while assisting others underwater can be rendered incapable of doing their job exactly when they're most needed to.


For more information, visit: http://dentistsclinic.com.au/.

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