Author Topic: Tooth numbness after diving.  (Read 4570 times)


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Tooth numbness after diving.
« on: October 25, 2011, 12:33:49 UTC »
(Q) 10.10.11

"Hi Doc,

I went on a week ong dive trip and returned 3 weeks ago. I had had a cold a couple of weeks before the trip which seemed to have cleared up before the trip. However, during the trip I started having a reverse sinus squeeze on ascent.

One of my fellow divers was a doctor, and treated me with sudafed and cortisone - which helped a lot and allowed me to continue to dive. I would ascend very slowly, to allow the sinus to equalize, and aside from a little pressure in the sinus on assent and temporary numbness in my teeth all was well.

The last day of diving the numbness didn't go away, however, and started becoming somewhat painful. When I got back home (and we drove, we didn't have to fly), I went to the health clinic at work where the NP treated me for sinus infection with antibiotics and more cortisone. After 3 days and no change I went to my GP, who did not think I had a sinus infection and increased the cortisone from 20mg to 60mg and advised me to see an ENT. Both the GP and the NP could see drainage from my sinus on that side.

I saw the ENT next day. He had me continue the cortisone (60mg for 2 days, 40mg for 2 days, 20mg for 2 days). He also did a CAT scan of my sinus which showed some thickening of the maxilary sinus lining, but no abnormalities.

So the CAT scan is normal, I'm done with the cortisone. But I still have abnormal sensation in my right side teeth. Now instead of being numb it sort of feels like I had recent dental work. Its no longer painful, but it doesn't feel normal either.

I'm assuming there is some nerve injury and I am wondering how long it will take to resolve. I've never had a single problem with my sinus before and I am wondering if this might turn into a chronic problem for diving (or maybe its just because I had had a cold?).”

(A) 10.14.11

Hi S...,

Several nerves that enervate the face pass through or by various sinus cavities (See --> ) These can be traumatized by insults such as reverse squeeze during SCUBA, and the likelihood of squeeze increases when the diver is congested by a cold. The maxillary nerve, a branch of the 5th cranial nerve (Trigeminal), which among other functions serves the molar teeth, runs very close to the maxillary sinus.

Such injury is unlikely to be permanent (although in rare instances it can), but can manifest itself for an extended period. I'd give it a bit more time unless it appears to get worse.

Best of luck.



This is educational only and does not constitute or imply a doctor-patient relationship. It is not medical advice to you or any other individual, and should not be construed as such."


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