From workouts to water slides, pools provide endless hours of splashes and smiles. But have you ever stopped to think about chlorine and teeth?
It’s no secret that most pools contain chlorine, a chemical used to kill germs. However, you might be surprised to learn chlorine can cause more than itchy eyes and green-tinted hair (if you don’t shower after a dip). Swimming pool chemicals can create brown deposits of tarter on your teeth, also known as “swimmers’ calculus.”
You don’t have to be a math wiz to solve this equation: chlorine and teeth = tooth erosion.
Athlete swimmers and recreational splashers, particularly those who swim more than 6 hours a week, face potential stains on their pearly whites and even enamel loss. In other words, regular exposure to chemically treated water can cause tooth trouble.
So how can you avoid the pearly white pool curse? Take these precautions before diving into the deep end:
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. If the pH level is too low or too high, it can damage your teeth. Antimicrobials found in pool water have a much higher pH than our saliva, as well. This causes protein breakdown, which results in enamel erosion and teeth stains.
Take a gulp
Pool water everywhere, nor any drop to drink! Bring a reusable bottle filled with safe-to-swig H2O. It will keep you hydrated and can be used to wash away any harmful deposits. Plus drinking pool water is just icky.
Zip your lips
Make an effort to keep your mouth closed while swimming. The more you keep chlorine and teeth apart, the better chance you have of preventing or slowing tooth erosion.
Add an appointment
If you spend considerable time poolside, consider doubling-up on dental visits. Even before you notice brownish stains on your teeth, you can begin experiencing the effects of enamel erosion. The Academy of General Dentistry recommends increasing your checkups to 3-4 times a year if you’re a regular water wader, and a little extra time with your dentist always helps keep your mouth healthy. (Check to see if your insurance covers extra exams.)