Scuba diving is a very popular hobby in Florida because even if you’re “landlocked” like we are here in Orlando, you’re never that far from some great dive spots. For example, we’re just an hour and a half from the great diving off Tampa, and even the Keys are less than a day’s drive.
Unfortunately, as with other physical activities, the downside of having all this diving so easy to access is that you might notice some negative side effects of scuba diving in your jaw and teeth.
Scuba Diving, Jaw Pain, and TMJ
To scuba dive, you have to hold the mouthpiece in place for the entire dive. This means biting down for the entire length of the dive. This is just not something the jaw was designed to do, and, as a result, many people experience significant jaw pain during or after a dive.
The basic cause is probably that you don’t have a properly fitted mouthpiece. Work hard to find the right one for you, because you could otherwise suffer negative consequences. And don’t expect jaw pain to go away as your mouth becomes adjusted to the mouthpiece–it’s just as likely that adapting to your mouthpiece could result in serious damage to your jaw joint, resulting in temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).
If you notice that your jaw pain persists after the dive, if you’re feeling pain in your actual joint, or if you experience headaches, ringing in the ears, or other TMJ symptoms, you need to talk to a neuromuscular dentist.
Tooth Compression at Depth
We’re used to dealing with the bigger consequences related to diving down and coming back up, such as the bends from ascending too quickly.
But pressure affects all parts of your body, including your teeth. What might seem like small tooth problems at normal pressure can be magnified when you put your teeth under pressure. Fillings that aren’t strong or have been weakened by decay, a cavity you didn’t know you had, an infected tooth, or even a tooth that is a little tender from a rough bump can all turn into major sources of pain when you’re underwater.
Healthy Teeth and Jaws for Divers
If you go about it properly, though, there’s no reason why you have to experience pain associated with your scuba diving hobby. If you go through the following steps, you can avoid both TMJ and tooth pain related to scuba.
- Your mouthpiece needs to fit properly from the start. If you’re straining to hold it now, it’s likely to get worse.
- Get checked for TMJ before you go diving. If you already have a jaw dysfunction, scuba diving can make it work.
- Make your regular dental checkups so you’re aware of any problems before you dive. If you haven’t been in a while, schedule one a few weeks before any diving trip.
- Weak fillings can be a source of discomfort underwater even if they’re adequate in most situations. Ceramic fillings are the strongest fillings available, and they will provide maximum protection for your teeth.
Following these simple steps will ensure that scuba diving remains a source of joy, not pain. If you are looking for a cosmetic dentist in the Orlando area that can help you keep your teeth and jaws healthy, please call (407) 834-6446 to schedule an appointment with Michael L. Weinstock in Altamonte Springs.