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from the Academy of General Dentistry


Tuesday, September 16, 2014
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Avoid Diver's Mouth Syndrome When Scuba Diving

 

Before you go scuba diving, see your dentist because this sport can lead to jaw joint pain, gum tissue problems or tooth pain.

 

All of these symptoms add up to "diver's mouth syndrome," a condition that is caused by the mouthpiece and by the air pressure change involved in scuba diving Ė a sport that is enjoyed by about 4 million enthusiasts in the United States.  
 

"Most standard scuba-diving mouthpieces are usually too small for most," says Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson Eric Curtis, DDS, who is also a scuba diver. "Divers are typically exhilarated when they dive, although they have to drag a bulky air regulator through the water with their teeth. They may bite too hard into the mouthpiece, which could lead to jaw joint pain and gum lacerations."

 

At first, divers may not notice the discomfort in their mouth caused by an ill-fitting mouthpiece because they are so distracted by the thrilling scenery of colorful fish and graceful coral reefs. But when they conclude their dive and pull off their mouthpiece, they may notice the jaw joint pain or gum lacerations caused by clenching too hard onto the mouthpiece.

 

"If the jaw joint pain persists longer than a few days, the diver should consider visiting a dentist to evaluate for possible temporomandibular joint syndrome," says Dr. Curtis. The dentist may construct a custom-fitted mouthpiece for scuba divers to avoid such problems.

 

"Tooth squeeze, or barodontalgia, is the other problem associated with scuba diving," says Dr. Curtis. "If there's a big cavity, a broken filling, gum disease or abscess or incomplete root canal therapy, the changing pressure of scuba diving can become extremely painful."

 

"Be sure you're in good dental health before you go scuba diving," says Dr. Curtis. "Be wary of scuba diving if you've just had a tooth extracted or if you have only temporary fillings. Be very cautious if you have dentures or partial dentures, which can be inadvertently swallowed during a dive."

 

Reviewed: January 2012

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