Did you know that prolonged exposure to pool water can affect your teeth? Chlorine can cause a condition known as swimmer’s calculus, as well as increase your risk of tooth damage, tooth sensitivity, and enamel erosion. As such, if you love to swim, it’s important to ensure that you’re taking proper care of your teeth and doing what you can to prevent damage.
If Swimming In A Pool Affects Your Teeth, Should You Stop Swimming?
You know how citric acid can damage your teeth, but citrus fruits are good for you? It’s similar with swimming. Swimming is one of the healthiest, low-impact forms of exercise. As such, even though chlorine can hurt your teeth, this doesn’t mean you should stop doing something that’s good for your overall health and wellness. The key is knowing what you can do in order to prevent damage to your teeth.
How Does Swimming In A Pool Affect Your Teeth?
If you swim a lot, you may notice tooth discoloration, transparent edges of teeth, and tooth sensitivity over time – especially if you swim with your mouth open.
When you experience extended exposure to chlorine, you are at an increased risk for tooth damage, sensitivity, and erosion. This is because of how chloric acid can form hydrochloric acid, which is bad for your teeth.
Prolonged swimming can cause hard yellowish-brown deposits to form on teeth, also known as swimmer’s calculus. This usually occurs when you spend more than 6 hours a week in a chlorinated pool, but it can also happen in less than 3 hours. These deposits can attract bacteria, increasing your risk of cavities and gum disease.
While chlorine reduces hazardous germs, it can cause enamel erosion because of its high pH levels.
If you’re a swimmer and you’re concerned about your teeth, it’s best to consult with your dentist. They will be able to tell you what you can do to protect your teeth. You may need more frequent dental cleanings than the typical twice-a-year appointments.
Do Pools Need Chlorine?
There are both chlorinated and saltwater pools. If chlorine poses a risk to your teeth, you may wonder why pools need it.
The CDC recommends that pools have pH levels between 7.2 and 7.8. This is because chlorine is an antimicrobial agent that prevents germs and algae. It’s the first line of defense against germs in pool water.
Chlorine’s disinfection properties improve lives by keeping drinking water and pools safe. Before water was treated with chlorine-based disinfectants, thousands died a year from waterborne diseases like cholera, dysentery, typhoid fever, hepatitis A, as well as suffered from swimmer’s ear, skin rashes, etc
However, the chlorination levels need to be properly monitored. If you notice that the pool linings, railings, and ladders have erosion, the water may be too acidic. Improperly chlorinated water increases risk of tooth damage.
Protecting Your Teeth From Chlorine
You may be surprised to learn that you don’t just need to worry about chlorine in pools. Chlorine dioxide may be present in some whitening strips. This can erode your tooth enamel and damage your teeth. As such, if you’re going to use OTC whitening products, check the labels to ensure that the ones you use don’t have any chlorine.
As for you swimmers out there, here are some things that you can do to protect your smile while enjoying your favorite sport. Prevention is always easier than trying to repair damage.
- Keep your mouth closed while swimming.
- Ask your dentist if you need to see them more often. They may apply a protective fluoride treatment, scrape away mineral deposits, and give you advice on what you can do to protect your teeth.
- Drink plenty of water. Rinse your mouth with fresh water and spit it out to remove chlorine.
- Practice good dental hygiene and ensure that you’re using toothpaste with fluoride.
- Ensure the pool is maintained. If it’s yours, don’t add too much chlorine.
- You can buy testing strips to check for safe pH levels.
- Wait to brush after swimming, at least 30 minutes. This is because enamel may be softened after swimming and more easily damaged.
- Monitor your mouth for any changes. Ask your dentist for tips and contact them if you have any concerns.
- If you own your pool, check it once a week at least.
You can also look for saltwater pools if chlorine concerns you.