Originally Published @ Scuba Scoop 26 April 2011
The teeth and mouth are impacted when underwater on a scuba dive. These problems need to be addressed for enjoyable and safe scuba diving.
For scuba divers, problems can occur with dentures, fillings in teeth, and holding the regulator in the mouth for long periods of time.
Dentures And Scuba Diving
Wearing dentures is a dental problem for scuba divers. The denture may get dislodged if the regulator or snorkel is bumped during a scuba dive.
The action of holding the regulator in the mouth can force the denture against the mouthpiece, possibly dislodging the denture. This can be made worse if the movement of the head while scuba diving forces against the denture.
Should the scuba diver with a denture need to vomit, either underwater or on the dive boat from seasickness, problems can occur if the denture is forced out of place.
A dislodged denture can be the starting event for a dangerous situation to unfold, as the regulator mouthpiece and an unsecured denture all fight for space in the mouth. Not a good situation when 20 or so metres under the surface.
The solution is to remain calm, take a breath, remove the regulator and re-install the denture. Sounds easy, but can be quite problematic as the diver will be stressed.
Problems With Teeth Fillings On A Scuba Dive
Recurrent decay in a previously filled tooth can lead to problems when scuba diving. This could occur if there is decayed material inside a filling cavity with a small entry hole. On descent, the change in pressure could force some of the decay material to block the entry hole which could lead to pain on the ascent.
Problems With Decayed Teeth While Scuba Diving
Potential problems can occur for scuba divers when diving with teeth that are decayed. The decay inside a tooth is a weak spot and the resultant change in pressure on descent and ascent could cause the tooth to break. The solution for this problem is for scuba divers to have regular dental check-ups and have teeth filled when needed.
The term “Regulator Mouth” is a common problem for scuba divers, usually encountered during an enjoyable dive trip to an exotic location with lots of scuba dives taking place. It is an aching feeling in the jaw hinge (mandibular joint) and associated muscles, and is caused by clamping down on the regulator mouthpiece for long periods of time. The muscles in the jaw are not used to this type of action and tire quickly.
The pain usually disappears a few days after the diving has finished, but can be annoying while on a scuba holiday.
This malady usually strikes a diver who doesn’t dive regularly and suddenly does a number of dives in quick succession.
The best way to address this problem is to relax the jaw when underwater and don’t clamp down too hard on the regulator mouthpiece.
The other solution is to do more scuba diving! This gets the jaw used to chomping down on a regulator mouthpiece for a few hours a day. If only all problems were this easy.
Other Dental Problems For Scuba Divers
Another mouth problem for scuba divers is abrasions from a poor fitting regulator mouthpiece. The solution is to use a mouthpiece of a softer material. Or trim off any sharp or annoying bits of the mouthpiece to prevent them chafing.
Pressure change, on both descent and ascent has a major impact on the teeth. Careful management of the problem is required to prevent dental problems for scuba divers.