From fish to coral to turtles and more, there are amazing things to be seen underneath the ocean’s surface! Nothing gets you in the middle of the action like scuba diving does. But from our experience, we know that scuba diving can put stress on your teeth and jaw. Now a new study confirms that before you pull on your wetsuit and flippers and check out the marine life up close, you should consider paying your dentist a visit.
Scuba Diving Puts Pressure on Teeth
New research from the University at Buffalo indicates that between the clenched jaw and fluctuations in atmospheric pressure that come with scuba diving, divers are at high risk of dental complaints during their scuba diving experience. In fact, 41% of divers in the study report experiencing dental symptoms such as barodontalgia (tooth pain related to pressure, sometimes called “tooth squeeze”), jaw pain, or even loosened crowns. One study participant even experienced a broken dental filling.
“The dry air and awkward position of the jaw while clenching down on the regulator is an interesting mix,” said Vinisha Ranna, BDS, who conducted the study. “An unhealthy tooth underwater would be much more obvious than on the surface.”
The results of the study made it clear that something needs to be done to protect divers’ teeth. For those who dive frequently, such as instructors, dental symptoms were the most frequent.
Ranna would like to see mouthpiece manufacturers evaluate how their product might be causing jaw discomfort and even TMJ symptoms in divers, but until that happens, it’s up to the divers themselves to protect their teeth when diving.
Keep Your Teeth Safe Underwater
If you want to be able to enjoy your scuba trip fully, it’s important to take steps to prepare your teeth for diving. Here are a few things you’ll want to do before taking the plunge:
- Check your mouthpiece. It needs to fit properly and not put strain on your jaw. If it’s uncomfortable just trying it on, it’ll get even worse wearing it for extended periods in the water.
- Evaluate your jaw. Do you display symptoms of TMJ? Talk with your dentist about the possibility before diving. If your jaw is out of balance, you won’t be able to find a mouthpiece that’s comfortable.
- Get work done. If you have dental work upcoming, get it done before diving. The additional pressure of a dive could worsen existing problems.
- Touch up crowns and fillings. Old crowns and fillings may be at risk of fracturing, particularly if they’re already weakened. Our CEREC system can give you durable crowns and fillings in one day, so you don’t have to put off your trip.
It may be tempting to grab your gear and head for the waves, but preparing properly for your scuba trip is a must unless you want your adventure ruined by dental complaints. The last place you want to experience a dental emergency is a hundred feet below the surface!
If you’re planning a scuba trip in San Diego and are looking for a local dentist, call (619) 299-5925 or contact us online to make an appointment so your trip can be trouble-free.