Barodontalgias, dental and orofacial barotraumas. A survey in Swiss divers and caisson workers

The present study deals with dental and orofacial symptoms which can occur as a result of pressure variations.

Changing ambient pressure can lead to medical conditions in body cavities filled with air. Intraoral pain elicited by changes in pressure is referred to as barodontalgia. Dental barotraumas are defined as pressure-induced damages of teeth and restorations. The pathophysiologic background so far is not completely clear. The present study deals with dental and orofacial symptoms which can occur as a result of pressure variations. With the aid of cantonal administrations, diving associations, and tunnel construction firms, 520 pressure-exposed individuals (499 scuba/ professional divers, 21 caisson workers operating at excess pressure) were questioned regarding dental problems. A personal interview was conducted with affected individuals. Problems in the dental area were experienced by 15% of all respondents. Toothaches were suffered by 10.2% of the participants. Tooth injuries occurred in 6.3 % of all interviewees (26 fractured amalgam restorations, 4 crown fractures, 3 losses of tooth fragments). A proportion of 11.3 % among the respondents complained about temporomandibular joint problems or mucosal irritations (for example aphthae) related to the mouthpieces. Barotraumas outside the dental area were incurred by 31.9% of the divers. Of these, 69.9% concerned the ears and 65.6% occurred during the descent. Based on the results obtained from the survey and taking into account the current literature, recommendations for the prevention of barotraumas in divers and caisson workers were prepared. Diagnostic exclusion of dental pathologies and avoidance of retentive reconstruction materials are important factors for the prevention of barodontalgias and dental barotraumas.

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