With Thanks to my Dentist
Dr. Mark Semchyshyn DDS, BSc.
Whose valuable tips and information, without which, this blog would not be possible!!
It starts off as a dull pain/aching feeling just in front of your ear after your second day of diving, and you’ve booked a 10 day all inclusive dive package. OUCH!! In more ways than one. $$$ It keeps getting progressively worse day after day until the simple task of holding your reg in your mouth is unbearable.
WHAT’S GOING ON??:
You have a joint in your mouth called the TMJ joint, (Temporomandibular Joint) where if you put your fingers just in front of your ears and chew you can feel it going up and down. This resulting pain is known as TMD (temporomandibular Dysfunction) and is one of the more common complaints in divers. I’m lucky as Dr. Mark is also a diver and was happy to sit down with me on this. Regular mouthpieces on regulators are thought you cause your jaw to go out of alignment as it forces your jaws to go into an "anatomically" awkward position, which leads to strain on your jaw muscles and a lot of immflammation around your TMJ joint.
IS THIS A SERIOUS CONDITION??:
Not really as for most divers a few days without a regulator in your mouth allows things to cool down and return to normal. But if the pain doesn’t go away in a few days you may have an abnormal bite, grind your teeth in your sleep, some kind of jaw deformity that you were born with, etc. You should then see your dentist ASAP.
HOW TO PREVENT THIS:
Mark recommended that you may want to get a custom made mouthpiece for your regulator and a lot of Sports Injury clinics, or Orthodontist’s can take an impression of your mouth and have a specially designed mouthpiece made for you. The cost can be between $75-250 for these. You can also get a mouthpiece called a comfo-bite which is distributed by Aqualung Corp., and most dive shops stock them or can get them for you.
Other things that can help is having a swivel 1st stage on your reg setup, or a neutrally buoyant second stage. With the neutrally bouyant second you won’t have as much down ward pressure from you reg on your jaws. He also stated that a few divers who can not get rid of the pain this way may have to resort to a full face mask, I use an AGA sport for recreational diving every so often, but I find my Magnum Blizzard is neutral enough to dive in peace.
QUICK FIXES WHILE AWAY:
1) Alternate between heat/cold packs on the affected area.
2) An OTC pain killer like Advil, Orudis KT, Aleve works good.
3) Softer foods for a day can also help.
I suffered with this problem for 5 years before I quit putting it off and doing something about it. It eventually led to me getting a night guard to keep from grinding, and an orthodontic mouthpiece, but it is well worth it.
Occasionally I’ll need an Advil but not as often any more!!
Hope this makes your diving a bit more enjoyable.
Diver Certification Board of Canada Surface Supplied Air Diver No Restrictions