Scuba divers may want to stop by their dentist’s office before taking their next plunge. A new study from the University at Buffalo, New York, published in the British Dental Journal, found that 41% of divers experienced dental symptoms in the water.
Due to the constant jaw clenching and fluctuations in the atmospheric pressure underwater, divers may experience symptoms that range from tooth, jaw and gum pain to loosened crowns and broken dental fillings.
Recreational divers should consider consulting with their dentist before diving if they recently received dental care, says Vinisha Ranna, BDS, lead author of the study.
Vinisha is also a certified stress and rescue scuba diver and said: “Divers are required to meet a standard of medical fitness before certification, but there are no dental health prerequisites.
“Considering the air supply regulator is held in the mouth, any disorder in the oral cavity can potentially increase the diver’s risk of injury. A dentist can look and see if diving is affecting a patient’s oral health.”
The research was inspired by Ranna’s first experience with scuba diving in 2013 where she noticed a squeezing sensation in her teeth, a condition known as barodontalgia. Her goal was to identify the dental symptoms that divers experience and detect trends in how or when they occur.
Of the 41 participants who reported dental symptoms, 42% experienced barodontalgia, 24% described pain from holding the air regulator in their mouths too tightly and 22% reported jaw pain. Another 5% noted that their crowns were loosened while diving, and one person reported a broken dental filling.