Summer vacation and your teeth

Flying the skies or diving the seas this summer? We’ve got the info you need. 

The scoop on scuba: 

A survey of recreational scuba divers recently found that 41 percent reported dental problems related to diving. These problems sometimes referred to collectively as “diver’s mouth syndrome” can include gum problems, jaw joint pain, and a condition known as “tooth squeeze” when changing pressure causes pain in the center of a tooth. If your summer plans include diving, give us a call to make sure that you are up to date on your dental wellness visits so we can make sure your teeth are in good shape.

Gum and jaw pain symptoms are often caused by the mouthpiece that divers use. Many divers drag their bulky air regulator through the water with their teeth or bite too hard on their mouthpiece. Either of these actions can lead to pain in the jaw joint and/or gum lacerations. Divers really have to work to keep their lips pursed around these small pieces of rubber, which exacerbates the problem, especially for people who are already prone to TMJ. According to an article in Scuba Diving Magazine, most standard mouthpieces are also too small for an average person and only support the very back teeth. If you feel pain or soreness in your jaw when diving, you should consult with a dentist, and consider going to a dive shop to purchase a custom fitted mouthpiece.

Symptoms that occur in your tooth itself are, quite aptly referred to as “tooth squeeze” and are related to the change in pressure under water. When you descend deep into the water, pressure can build any areas where a small pocket of air is caught in a tooth. Cavities, unfinished root canals, defective edges on a crown, an abscess or generalized gum disease all increase the likelihood of experiencing tooth squeeze during either descent and ascent. Be wary of scuba diving if you’ve had dental work in the day or two before your dive. The change in pressure can cause severe pain and cause healing to take longer.

Facts on flying:

“Tooth squeeze” doesn’t only affect divers. It can also take a toll on frequent fliers. Otherwise known as barodontalgia, this altitude-induced tooth pain is caused by tiny pockets of air that can form near fillings, crowns, root canals, cracks, infections, and inflammations. Changes in the airplane cabin’s barometric pressure can cause trapped air to expand, putting pressure on the inside of the tooth and any dental restorations nearby. This can result in sharp pain and can sometimes be severe enough to pop off a crown or filling. If you feel pain or pressure after flying please come see us or, a dentist at your destination, because it may be a warning sign of possible infection or an abnormality that requires attention. Likewise, if there’s a tooth that just doesn’t feel quite right and you’re flying soon, we suggest you stop by for a visit so we can ensure your trip won’t start with a toothache. If you’ve very recently had treatment and plan to fly soon, call or email us to see if they have any recommendations.



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