When a dentist warns you to protect your teeth while you swim this summer, you probably assume it means being careful not to slip and fall or hit your mouth on the side of the pool. While dental injuries can certainly happen around wet pool decks, this isn’t the only way that swimming can pose a risk to your dental health. If you have an avid swimmer in your family, whether recreational or athletic, you should be cautious about the effects that chlorinated water can have on their teeth.
Most swimming pools contain chlorine and antimicrobials to kill off bacteria. While this is appreciated for your shared neighborhood pool, these chemicals can be too strong for your teeth to handle if exposed regularly. We all know that drinking pool water is not safe. However, many people (especially kids) have a habit of swimming with their mouth open. This can expose teeth to enamel erosion, stains and “swimmer’s calculus,” which is the build-up of brown deposits of tartar on the teeth surfaces due to extended time in chlorine pools.
A primary concern about pool water and your smile is the pH of the water. Typically, pools should be tested frequently and kept at a pH of 7.2 and 7.8. However, many times pool water reaches a higher acidity. You should know that your saliva registers around a 6.7 pH on average, and anything more acidic can break down vital dental proteins and weaken the outer layer of your teeth. This exposes your teeth to stains, sensitivity and decay!
Don’t worry – you don’t have to keep your kids out of the pool all summer to stay out of the dental office. Just be sure to have a bottled water ready for your child as they towel off, and remind them to swim with their lips closed as much as possible.
For more summer tips for healthy smiles, contact Gilreath Dental Associates in Marietta.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,