What is the Diver’s Mouth Syndrome?

DentistAccording to DEMA, more than 2 million Americans were active scuba divers in 2013. PADI, one of the biggest diving certification schools in the world, is already present in 150 countries.

Indeed, more people see the benefits and fun of scuba diving. The ease of getting a certification makes it even more attractive.

Despite these, scuba diving isn’t for everyone and those who do it should take extra precaution, especially when it comes to their oral health.

What’s the Problem?

Scuba diving comes with certain risks, such as decompression or the buildup of gases in the body. Divers are also prone to a dental problem known as the diver’s mouth syndrome. This is a condition characterized by the jaw, gum, and teeth pain.

What causes the pain? There are many factors. One is the nature of the bite to the mouthpiece, which delivers the much-needed trimix gases (helium, nitrogen, and oxygen) from the tank. If the bite is strong, it may lead to an intense pressure to the jaw. Another is the weight of the tank, which can add more tension to the mouth.

How Prevalent is the Problem?

In a pilot study conducted by the University of Buffalo, more than 40 percent of divers display dental symptoms. Around 22 percent of 41 test subjects complained of jaw pain while 42 percent developed barodontalgia, a pain in the tooth caused by changes in atmospheric pressure.

What’s are the Consequences?

The risks of oral injury increase the longer the diver’s mouth syndrome is left untreated. It may lead to temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ) disorders, which, when they become severe, may require surgery. In some cases, they can cause chronic pain, which significantly reduces the quality of life.

Make diving even more fun by ensuring your oral health is good. See your dentist more regularly each year.