The summer heat is relentless, and a dip in the pool is one of the few activities that brings the cooling relief you crave. Plus, not only do you escape the summer heat, you also engage in an excellent source of aerobic activity.
But too much of a good thing can be harmful. While contact sports like football and boxing usually have a bad reputation among dentists, there’s reason to be cautious with the amount of time spent swimming.
Whether you swim for sport or fun, spending too much time in chlorinated water can affect your teeth.
It’s best to always be prepared in the case of a dental emergency. Keep the family dentists at WhiteWing Dental in mind this season as you and your family set out for summer fun. Our McAllen dentists aim to maintain and restore every smile that walks through our doors.
Consider the following guidelines as you and your loved ones enjoy some pool time.
The Scoop on Chlorine and Dental Health
You may have wondered why chlorine is used in pool water. Chlorine is used as an antimicrobial agent in both drinking water and swimming pools to kill harmful bacteria.
The chlorine content found in tap water is not enough to cause any dental problems, but there is cause for concern when it comes to lounging in a backyard jacuzzi or doing laps at a local pool. More and more data is surfacing linking overly chlorinated water to tooth damage.
Essentially, when pools contain too much chlorine, the water is at a pH level that can cause tartar buildup, enamel erosion, extreme sensitivity, and tooth discoloration.
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Swimmer’s Calculus and Chlorine
The more time you spend exposed to improperly chlorinated water, the more likely your teeth will be negatively affected. With chemical additives like chlorine creating a higher pH in the water, the salivary proteins found in your mouth break down quickly.
Organic deposits form on the teeth causing yellow to dark brown stains, or tartar deposits, known as swimmer’s calculus.
This typically affects swimmers and other individuals who spend over six hours a week in chemically treated water, which may be the case for some during the hot summer months.
Tooth Sensitivity and Chlorine
When pool water falls below a pH of 7, exposure to this environment can wear down the enamel of your teeth. This results in tooth discoloration, particularly on the edges of your front teeth.
Sensitivity to extreme temperatures, such as in cold or hot foods, is also common with enamel erosion.
Unfortunately, once the enamel erodes or is chipped or cracked, there is nothing your body can do to repair the damage. The best thing you can do for yourself and your family is to learn how to protect your teeth from the harmful effects of improperly chlorinated water and over-exposure to chlorinated water.
Protecting Your Teeth
While it is impossible to identify the pH level of water by simply looking at pool water, there are a few tips you can make use of before you enjoy a dip in your favorite pool. Keep your teeth healthy and protected by:
- Observing signs of acid erosion in public pools. Pay close attention to the railings and linings at the pool. When water is too acidic, or improperly chlorinated, you’ll notice spots of erosion on surfaces. Imagine what this could do to your teeth!
- Keeping pH strips on hand. Testing the pH of pool water before taking a swim or a relaxing soak is a wise idea. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that pool water should register at a pH between 7.2 and 7.8. These pH testing strips can be purchased at a local pool supply store or online retailer.
- Monitoring your backyard pool. Tending to your own pool may be a cost effective solution for you, but it can be quite the task to undertake. If possible, have a pool specialist examine your pool, particularly during periods when it will be used often.
- Maintaining a healthy dental hygiene routine. Use a soft-bristled brush when brushing your teeth and don’t skip your regular dental cleanings. If you notice any changes in the state of your teeth following frequent pool use, schedule an appointment with your McAllen dentist here at WhiteWing Dental. We will be able to identify and prevent any issues as well as make recommendations to keep your teeth strong and healthy.
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Don’t Forget: Play It Safe Around Pools
Improperly chlorinated water is not the only harm that can be done to your teeth this summer.
While swimming does not have as bad a reputation as contact sports like football and boxing, accidents can still happen. Contact water sports like water volleyball or water polo can lead to tooth or jaw injuries.
That’s why the use of a mouth guard during aquatic sports is recommended.
Swimming pool accidents unrelated to water sports often result in dental emergencies too. Children and adults can easily slip on cement or ceramic tiles surrounding pools, leading to chipped or cracked teeth. Exercise caution when maneuvering in and outside the pool area to avoid dampening your summer fun with a dental injury.
Don’t forget to visit WhiteWing Dental this summer for a cleaning.
If you’ve noticed a change in the enamel of your teeth recently or if you or a loved one have experienced a dental injury, our McAllen dentists at WhiteWing Dental are here to help.
We employ innovative cosmetic and restorative dentistry techniques that allow us to restore your smile to its full glory. With our variety of dental and orthodontic services for your entire family, you can rely on us this summer to meet all your dental needs.