Scuba diving is a very popular hobby in San Diego. This makes perfect sense, with some of the best diving just off the coast. Wreck alley has a lot of great wrecks, including the exciting but dangerous HMCS Yukon and the brand new HMCS Annapolis–you can watch the sinking of the Annapolis online, which only takes a couple minutes because everything went according to plan, unlike the Yukon.
But while scuba diving is a great pastime, it can also lead to painful teeth and jaw conditions. Fortunately, these can be prevented or treated.
How Scuba Diving Hurts Your Jaw
In scuba diving, you have to bite down on your mouthpiece to hold it in place for the length of the dive. While the human jaw can accomplish some amazing things, it wasn’t designed for this kind of constant clenching. This can lead to sore muscles and jaw joint stress, which can be significantly worse if the mouthpiece doesn’t fit properly.
This jaw clenching can worsen or even cause TMJ if you’re not taking proper preventive or treatment steps. Jaw pain can persist long after your dive, and you might start to notice headaches, ringing in your ears, and other TMJ symptoms.
You’re probably familiar with some of the more common effects of pressure, such as the bends from coming up too quickly. But pressure also affects your teeth. When you dive down, the same pressure that’s pushing on everything around you will push on your teeth. This can lead to serious tooth pain if the tooth isn’t in good shape. A weak filling, a cavity, an abscessed tooth, an irritated tooth, all can lead to significant pain.
You can also damage your teeth if you have to bite down too hard on your mouthpiece to keep it in place.
Avoiding Jaw and Tooth Damage When Diving
But scuba diving doesn’t have to hurt. If you take proper steps, you can enjoy your hobby without problems. Here are some tips:
- Make sure your mouthpiece fits properly. It shouldn’t strain your jaw to hold it.
- Get evaluated for TMJ–no mouthpiece will be comfortable if you have a jaw dysfunction.
- Get your teeth checked before you go on a dive–you don’t want excruciating pain at depth to be your first hint of trouble.
- Don’t postpone a root canal until after a dive. You will regret it.
- Replace weak fillings with strong ceramic fillings or crowns, which can be made in one visit using our CEREC system
If you do this, your teeth and jaws will serve you well when diving. That will make it a lot easier–and safer–to dive.
If you need help with diving-related tooth and jaw problems, please call (619) 299-5925 for an appointment with a San Diego TMJ dentist at Strober Dental today.