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? And 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," as well as multiple ways to treat it.
Several studies appearing in the journal Dental Update have addressed diver's mouth. It comes about in more or less the same way. 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 are towing an oxygen 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 nagging gum pain.
Besides choosing a better-fitting mouthpiece, individuals with diver's mouth may consider using a specialty breath freshening rinse that contains no alcohol or sodium lauryl sulfate. Such products kill bacteria without further irritating the gums.