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September 2011    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 37, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Do You Have Diverís Mouth?

from the September, 2011 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

I recently came across an Internet blurb by Dr. Harold Katz, a dentist who heads the California Breath Clinics and author of the Bad Breath Bible. Having been in the dive business forever, I've never encountered a diver with the pariah's affliction called "Diver's Mouth," but perhaps the dive boats' exhaust fumes have prevented me from noticing.

Katz writes: "Some people who take up scuba diving find that, after a few weeks, they suffer from jaw aches and halitosis. What is going on here? Can anything be done about it, short of finding a new hobby? The good news is that no one needs to quit scuba diving just because it gives them bad breath. In fact, there is a name for this condition - - 'diver's mouth syndrome.'

"Several studies appearing in the journal Dental Update have addressed diver's mouth. Novice divers choose a mouthpiece that is too small for their teeth and jaws, researchers say. As new divers swim underwater, they clench their teeth into the rubber of the mouthpiece, both out of excitement and because they're towing an oxygen (sic) regulator with their mouths. Biting into a poorly-fitted mouthpiece can cause jaw aches, and lead to nicks in the gums. These small cuts may get infected, leading to oral odor and gum pain.

"Besides choosing a better-fitting mouthpiece, individuals with diver's mouth may consider using a specialty breathfreshening rinse that contains no alcohol or sodium lauryl sulfate. Such products kill bacteria without further irritating the gums."

So, whenever you open your mouth on a dive boat, and your fellow divers jump overboard, you, my friend, may have the dreaded Diver's Mouth. Beware.

- - Ben Davison

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