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Top dentist warns about pressure on scuba divers


Jan 25, 2017

A LEADING NORTH East dentist is warning keen divers to ensure their teeth are in good health, to avoid pressure-induced pain.

Dr Richard Coates, who works at award-winning Riveredge Cosmetic Dentistry, is himself a scuba diver who has seen many cases of barodontalgia – pain in the teeth caused by being underwater.

And now he is encouraging fans of the activity to check that they don’t have poorly executed fillings or cavities, to avoid the possibility of problems when they dive.

Around 42 per cent 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.

“Barodontalgia is usually due to an air-filled void or cavity in the tooth or beneath a restoration,” said Dr Coates, who works at Riveredge’s Sunderland surgery.

“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 post graduate education in placement of well bonded composite resin/porcelain restorations can immediately alleviate these symptoms by identifying the cause and restoring the tooth appropriately.

“I have 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. As such, this condition can have serious consequences.”

Dr Coates, who is an advanced PADI certified scuba diver with more than 100 dives under his belt, 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 moulded mouthpiece or to get commercially available one which can be modified to suit the individual diver.”

Riveredge Cosmetic Dentistry is a multi-award winning practice set up by Dr Ken Harris, one of the UK’s leading cosmetic dentists, with surgeries in both Sunderland and Newcastle.

For further information visit www.riveredge.co.uk or call 0191 567 1020.

By Emily