Have you ever heard of barodontalgia? If you are regular scuba diver, you are probably familiar with the term. Barodontalgia refers to a toothache caused by an increase in pressure (either at high altitudes or underwater). While a person may be unaware of a small fracture in a tooth or a poorly completed filling on land, once they dive into the depths of the ocean, the dental problem is suddenly quite apparent. In fact, a number of divers have experienced a loose filling after diving or encountered a moderate to severe toothache during their dive experience.
Why does scuba diving and the change in pressure affect our teeth? A January 2017 article published by Life Science explained this common link between dental problems and scuba divers. Beyond the extreme pressure, a scuba diver’s air is quite dry and they must hold their regulator in a tight and awkward position. This can create excessive strain on the teeth and jaw during the time of pressure change.
Most dental symptoms that divers feel are in response to an underlying oral health condition, such as a cavity, bad filling or old crown. This makes it imperative to visit your dentist before you take your dive. While there are a number of physical fitness and medical standards that divers must meet before becoming scuba certified, there are no dental qualifications yet. The rise in awareness, however, may change these guidelines. In the meantime, make sure your oral health is in check before you put on your scuba gear. If not, you may find that your underwater adventures are not worth the subsequent dental bill.
Routine dental visits are the best way to monitor your dental health. At Park South Dentistry, we go to great lengths to perform a thorough exam of your teeth, gums and jaw. We use advanced imaging to detect problems before symptoms begin, which may help prevent underwater dental pain on your next dive.