There are countless dangers of scuba diving, as anyone who’s ever dipped beneath the surface will tell you. In fact, you needn’t even dip a finger in the water to know about the constant threat of sharks, the faults in air delivery systems, or the chance of becoming trapped underwater by shifting debris. All you need to do is watch any thriller or action movie with an underwater scene to become acutely aware of the risks that underwater adventures pose.
Now, health researchers led by a graduate student at the University of Buffalo in the American state of New York have concluded that the conditions present in scuba diving aggravate and exacerbate dental issues to sometimes severe degrees.
No doubt any diver has experienced some discomfort in the water. Chafing suits, jaw ache, and joint soreness are all common side effects of underwater adventure. Since certified divers must go through a health exam to receive their official paperwork, most people underwater these days don’t have anything to worry about from those.
The problem, it seems, is that divers with otherwise subtle aches, pains or residual issues find those symptoms and problems magnified and multiplied by being underwater. Researchers found that nearly half of all recreational divers in a wide survey reported experiencing dental problems underwater.
A lot of the problems reported by divers in the survey were pretty standard things that we’ve all experienced, like jaw soreness, stiff neck muscles or other pain that’s a result of clutching the respirator tightly underwater. On the other hand, a number of divers ended up with severe issues like broken fillings, crowns, and phenomenon called “barodontalgia”. In layman’s terms, it’s referred to as underwater toothache. It’s something people with a persisting and pre-existing condition often experience due to high pressures underwater. For instance, someone with a cavity or root issue would feel a sharp increase in pain symptoms underwater as opposed to on land. That was a pretty good chunk of respondents, too. 42% of people who were among the original 41% of respondents who said they’d experienced dental issues underwater qualified for barodontalgia, which works out to about a quarter of all surveyed divers claiming they’d experienced that exacerbated pain reaction.
What’s causing all those issues? Researchers say it’s a combination of the high pressure environment, the fact that divers clench their jaw, and the dryness of the air from your tanks. It also has a lot to do with the changes in pressure, rather than the level of pressure itself. That’s why researchers found that dive instructors who frequently experience fluctuations at shallower depths where the differences are most dramatic also reported the highest incidences of pain.