Newbie recreational scuba divers could be putting their teeth at risk for damage with their newfound hobby, studies show. There are three interconnected ways that scuba diving can affect your smile: pressure, stress, and breathing.
Take a look at each of these one by one:
Pressure If you have any experience at all with diving, then you're likely aware that pressure changes in the water affect your body. It's not uncommon for divers to report suffering barodontalgia, sometimes known as "tooth squeeze." This happens when pressure changes are felt in the hollow spaces and sinuses in your skull. There is a thin layer of gum tissue that cushions your teeth in their sockets. This soft and tissue-filled layer registers those pressure changes and can make your teeth feel tight and sore. This pressure can be so powerful that it has resulted in damage to teeth and restorations such as shattering crowns.
Stress Most new divers are either very nervous, very excited, or simply concentrating too hard on the task before them. This tension usually leads to unconscious jaw clenching. As a result, you may experience TMJ pain or risk damaging your teeth when you bite down too hard on the breathing regulator.
Breathing You may have some trouble because your jaw doesn't fit around the regulator. Scuba diving would be a lot easier if regulators could be custom-sized! Before you can be certified to dive, you'll need to take a fitness test. But perhaps getting a dental checkup before diving should be just as important. This way, you can make sure that your teeth and restorations are nice and strong and won't cave under pressure. Have some fun plans for scuba diving off the Florida coast this year? Do yourself a favor and visit SEDA Dental for a smile evaluation before taking the plunge.