Barodontalgia or “tooth squeeze” was the most frequently experienced symptom. This condition, caused by pressure changes acting on air cavities, most commonly affects scuba divers and pilots.

Other symptoms were found to result from constant clenching of the jaw while holding a regulator second-stage mouthpiece in place.

Diving instructors appeared the most likely to experience dental-related pain during a dive, suggested the researchers, who also found that molars were the teeth most likely to cause problems.

The aim of the research was to determine the prevalence of dental symptoms in divers and study their distribution based on demographics and diving qualifications and conditions.

Lead author of the study Vinisha Ranna, a diver and a student at the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, had experienced tooth-pain herself when she started diving. She is now conducting a more extensive follow-up study with more than 1000 participants.

She and fellow-researchers from the University of Rochester, also in New York state, suggested that divers should go undergo dental checks before going under water to address instances of decay or damaged crowns or fillings, and that regulator mouthpiece design should be re-evaluated.

A recent article published in Diver, Unexpected Air-pockets by Diver Alert Network correspondent Britanny Trout, addressed the subject of dental health in divers. You can read it on Divernet here 

Vinisha Ranna’s pilot study, Prevalence of Dental Problems in Recreational Scuba-Divers, is published in the British Dental Journal.