An English dentist is warning divers to keep their teeth in good health to avoid pressure-induced pain.
Dr. Richard Coates, who works at Riveredge Cosmetic Dentistry in northeastern England, is an avid scuba diver who has seen many cases of “barodontalgia” — pain in the teeth caused by being underwater.
And now he is encouraging divers to check that they don’t have poorly executed fillings or cavities, to avoid the possibility of problems when they dive.
Around 42 percent of scuba divers have reported suffering from barodontalgia at one time or another, some having such intense pain that they have had to give up the sport.
Coates, who works in Sunderland in northeastern England, says:
“Barodontalgia is usually due to an air-filled void or cavity in the tooth or beneath a restoration. The air-filled space wants to change size in response to changing pressure situations during scuba diving and this causes intense pain. I have treated many commercial and recreational divers who experience this and the treatment can be difficult.
“However, a dentist with advanced skills and suitable postgraduate education in placement of well-bonded composite resin/porcelain restorations can immediately alleviate these symptoms by identifying the cause and restoring the tooth appropriately.”
Coates said he has known commercial divers who have taken career breaks as a consequence of barodontalgia, until they found out that these symptoms can be alleviated with the appropriate advanced dental care.
An advanced PADI certified scuba diver with more than 100 dives under his belt, Coates said divers can also suffer from jaw pain, usually related to the prolonged use of diving mouthpieces:
“I would advise patients who experience this discomfort to get a custom-molded mouthpiece or to get a commercially available one which can be modified to suit the individual diver.”