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November 2011    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 37, No. 11   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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A Mouthpiece to Prevent Diverís Mouth

from the November, 2011 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Dear Ben,

I am a practicing dentist for 32 years, and have had some training in diagnosing and treating patients with jaw pain. Your article in the September issue about the diver's mouth syndrome was interesting. Some of the information stated by Dr. Katz is correct. The reason why divers get pain in their jaws after diving repeatedly is due to clenching their teeth. They may clench due to stress, excitement or trying to hold onto the second stage, especially if it is heavy. If the mouthpiece just provides a section for the front teeth only to bite on, the jaw joints can get sore if the diver is clenching.

This can occur less if the mouthpiece extends to where the front and back teeth all bite at the same time with equal pressure. A moldable mouthpiece that you warm up and bite into can provide a more stable biting surface, and equalize the biting pressure among all the teeth evenly, theoretically. But if the mouthpiece also has a large area behind the lips (where the lips and cheeks help to hold it in the mouth), it can help to decrease the amount of clenching a diver might do.

My wife and I have used a Seacure mouthpiece for years with no problems. I went online and found a "Manta Bite" mouthpiece. This one has the large area where the lips and cheeks can hold it in, but nothing really to bite on. I have never tried it, but it may work great. But I am curious to know how much cheek and lip muscle is needed to hold it in. It's possible these muscles could get tired if they have to work too much.

- - Wayne Joseph, South San Francisco, CA

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