Doctor's Notes on Tooth Squeeze
Tooth squeeze is a condition that occurs often in scuba divers during ascent (coming back to the surface) when air is trapped in a dental filling or cavity. As a person is diving under water, air or gas can enter a cavity or dental filling. When the diver ascends to the surface, that air or gas expands and becomes “trapped,” causing pain. Tooth squeeze is more common in divers who have tooth decay, dental infections, or recent tooth extractions or fillings. Pain may also occur on descent (diving down) due to a “vacuum” effect but this is not common.
Symptoms of tooth squeeze include
What Is the Treatment for Tooth Squeeze?
If you have tooth squeeze symptoms see a dentist because early treatment can save your teeth from further injury. Home remedies to relive the symptoms of tooth squeeze include:
- Take over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- Avoid hot or cold food or drinks
- Eat soft foods or go on a liquid diet for a few days
- Over-the-counter pain relief drops for teeth
- Avoid diving if you have a recent dental trauma, cracked teeth, or painful cavities
The best way to avoid tooth squeeze to begin with is to take care of your teeth. Before you dive, see your dentist for an exam. Maintain a regular oral care routine to prevent any decay. If you do have dental work or tooth replacement wait at least 24 hours before diving. If you have oral surgery, wait a week before resuming diving.
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ToothacheToothache or tooth pain is caused when the nerve root of a tooth is irritated. Dental (tooth) infection, decay, injury, or loss of a tooth are the most common causes of toothache. One should call the doctor or dentist when experiencing toothache to receive appropriate treatment.
What Can I Do to Make a Toothache Go Away?A toothache is a dental emergency, which requires a visit to the dentist. In the meantime, you can relieve your toothache pain with home remedies such as cold compresses, heat packs, over-the-counter (OTC) pain medicine, pain-relieving oral gel, certain rinses, cautious eating/chewing, and others.
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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.