Research suggests scuba diving trainees could benefit from dental visit

Scuba divers may want to add a dental office visit into their regimen before taking a dip. Researchers at the University at Buffalo found that 41 percent of divers reported dental symp-toms in the water, including tooth, jaw and gum pain; loosened crowns and broken dental fillings.

The research, which involved 100 certified divers ages 18-65 completing a survey about dental symptoms they've experienced while diving, found that the most commonly mentioned symp-tom among the 41 percent who reported an issue was tooth pain associated with a change in atmospheric pressure, which is called barodontalgia.

Meanwhile, 24 percent of respondents experienced pain from holding the air regulator in their mouths too tightly, and 22 percent reported jaw pain.

Dr. Vinisha Ranna, the study's lead author who is also a certified stress and rescue scuba diver, said the results suggest that divers should "consider consulting with their dentist before diving if they recently received dental care."

"Divers are required to meet a standard of medical fitness before certification, but there are no dental health prerequisites," said Dr. Ranna in a press release about the research from the Uni-versity at Buffalo. "Considering the air supply regulator is held in the mouth, any disorder in the oral cavity can potentially increase the diver's risk of injury. A dentist can look and see if diving is affecting a patient's oral health."

The study, "Prevalence of Dental Problems in Recreational SCUBA Divers, " was published in November 2016 in the British Dental Journal.

Dr. Ranna, meanwhile, is conducting a follow-up study with a group of more than 1,000 partici-pants, according to the university.

For more research news from the University at Buffalo, visit www.Buffalo.edu. The American Dental Association's consumer website MouthHealthy.org offers advice for ath-letes about taking care of their teeth. The site also features a Symptom Checker that can help patients identify possible oral health conditions.

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