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There's Something in the Water: Swimming Pools and Your Teeth

By Jill Feilmeier on July 14, 2015 in Healthy Living

Chlorine might not be your teeth's best friend, but don't let pool chemicals prevent you from diving in!

Cannonball! From workouts to water slides, pools provide endless hours of splashes and smiles.

It's no secret that most pools contain chlorine, a chemical used to kill germs. You might be surprised to learn chlorine can cause more than itchy eyes and green-tinted hair. Pool water chemicals can create brown deposits on your teeth, also known as “swimmers' calculus.

Athlete swimmers or recreational splashers, particularly those who swim more than 6 hours per week, risk tooth stains and enamel loss. In other words, continual swimming pool water contact can cause oral health issues.

How can you avoid the pearly white pool curse? Take these precautions before you (and your teeth) take a dip:

° Get the pHacts.

Talk to your lifeguard or pool manager about their pH procedures. The pH level should be checked at least once a week and read somewhere between 7.2 and 7.8. The lower the pH level, the more harmful it is to your teeth. Antimicrobials found in pool water have a much higher pH than our saliva. This causes protein breakdown, resulting in enamel erosion and teeth stains.

° Take a gulp.

Pool water everywhere and not a drop to drink! Bring a reusable bottle filled with safe-to-swig H2O. It will keep you hydrated and help wash away any harmful deposits.

° Zip your lips.

Make an effort to close your mouth while swimming. The less time chlorine spends on your smile, the less chance for tooth erosion.

° Add an appointment.

If you spend most of the year poolside, consider doubling-up on dental visits. If you notice brownish stains on your teeth, the Academy of General Dentistry recommends increasing check-ups to 3 or 4 times a year. Talk to your dentist to find out what works best for you.

Swimmers' calculus can be easily avoided, so take action now. Keep smiling, swimmers!