Cold winter temperatures may have people dreaming about warmer climates and beach vacations. Before heading off to island destinations, individuals looking to scuba dive may want to stop by their dentist first, according to research from the University of Buffalo. New studies show that scuba diving increases the development and occurrence of some painful dental symptoms.
According to the UB study, performed in conjunction with the University of Rochester, 41 percent of scuba divers experience feeling dental symptoms under water. These symptoms include jaw pain, pain in the gums and even loosened dental restorations like crowns and fillings. Researchers believe this is a result of individuals clenching their jaw to hold a breathing regulator apparatus in their mouth in combination with the pressure exerted on the body underwater. Some patients even experience a condition known as barodontalgia, a painful feeling that occurs as a result of barometric pressure. This condition also happens to many individuals when they ride on airplanes, and even in some patients as a result of weather changes or sinus pressure and infection.
Although there are no recommended dental health requirements for scuba diving participants, a trip to the dentist for a checkup before heading out on vacation may be in a patient’s best interest. During this checkup, the dentist will be able to identify and treat potential areas of concern and ensure restorations are in good repair.
The study surveyed 100 recreational scuba divers, and results of the survey yielded 42 percent of participants reporting symptoms of barodontalgia, while 24 percent experienced jaw pain as a result of holding their breathing apparatus in their mouth. Other participants reported broken fillings and loosened crowns.
The research study also found that the majority of its participants had tooth pain in their molars, and the individuals with the most pain were those who participated in shallow water dives versus those who enjoyed diving in deep water conditions. This is because the pressure exerted on the body in shallow water fluctuates more frequently than the pressure of deep water.