How Swimming Could Affect Your Smile

How Swimming Could Affect Your Smile

May 12, 2015

As summer approaches, you might be anxious to get out your bathing suit and head to the pool. Swimming is a great way to get some exercise and enjoy fun in the sun with your family and friends. Unfortunately, however, the chlorine used to keep pools clean can actually damage your teeth, according to multiple scientific studies. In addition to causing uncomfortable toothache and sensitivity, exposing your teeth to chlorine can raise your risk for decay and create unsightly stains. Dealing with uncomfortable and embarrassing symptoms or having to interrupt your summertime festivities for a filling is far from ideal. Dr. Armstrong and our team are dedicated to helping our patients enjoy a wonderful quality of life with healthy, beautiful smiles during all seasons and activities. To help you enjoy swimming and preserve your gorgeous grin, read on to learn more about how chlorine can affect your teeth and what you can do about it.

How Chlorine Affects Your Teeth

Chlorine is a toxic chemical, typically found in gaseous form, that many people and community organizations add to their swimming pools. In small doses, it can kill harmful microorganisms and purify water, as British physician John Snow discovered in 1854 during the cholera epidemic in London. It helps keep both public and private pools across America crystal clear and safe from disease.

However, chlorine can also change the composition of pool water in detrimental ways. LiveStrong explains: “Once introduced into the swimming pool water, chlorine gas changes into chloric acid, which sanitizes the pool but forms hydrochloric acid, which can contribute to sensitive teeth.” In other words, the acids in chlorine can wear down your teeth, reducing the amount of enamel protecting your nerves. If your teeth have ever hurt after a swimming session, this could be the reason why. LiveStrong writes: “In April 1986, the ‘American Journal of Epidemiology’ reported that 39 percent of members in a Virginian swimming club suffered from dental erosion.” Even just a few weeks of regular chlorine exposure can damage your enamel. As well as making your dental nerves more sensitive to heat, cold, or pressure, erosion also allows decay-causing bacteria to penetrate your teeth more easily, making you susceptible to caries.

Prolonged exposure to chlorine can also create a condition known as “swimmer’s calculus,” brown stains that also develop as a result of improper acidity.KnowYourTeeth describes: “Pool water contains chemical additives like antimicrobials, which give the water a higher pH than saliva, causing salivary proteins to break down quickly and form organic deposits on swimmer’s teeth….hard, brown tartar deposits that appear predominantly on the front teeth.” No one wants to have a discolored post-swim smile!

Maintaining Your Swimming Smile

You don’t have to let the perils of chlorine keep you from making a splash this summer, as long as you take proper care of your teeth. Dr. Armstrong and our team provide the following recommendations to swimmers:

  • Come in for cleanings and examinations at least twice per year. Professional swimmers may need to attend appointments three or four times annually, and you may want to add an extra visit in the summer if you tend to swim frequently. During these check-ups, Dr. Armstrong can assess your teeth for erosion, remove swimmer’s calculus, and make further recommendations about safeguarding your oral health.
  • Check your private or community pool’s pH on a regular basis to ensure it is not too high. If you can find a saltwater pool with minimal chlorine used to sanitize it, this may also be a good option.
  • Limit opening your mouth underwater or while in the pool so that less chlorine can reach your teeth.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Proper nutrition can help fortify your enamel so it is less likely to erode, no matter the circumstances.
  • Maintain excellent oral hygiene. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash can help you keep your smile bright and healthy.

Preserve Your Smile and Enjoy the Pool

Using the above information and suggestions, you can maintain your smile and your summertime pool habits. To learn more about your oral hygiene or schedule an appointment, contact Craig Armstrong, D.D.S. today.

Original Source:

Font Resize
Click to listen highlighted text!