Summer is here and the rising temperatures make it especially tempting to run out and take a leisurely dip in the pool. What you may not realize is that taking the plunge into chlorinated water may cause damage to your smile. Whether you swim to stay healthy or just to get some relief from the heat, you may have noticed that your teeth feel sensitive and have a yellowish tinge after swimming in chlorinated water. While chlorine is used to kill harmful bacteria found in water, too much chlorine creates an environment that is highly acidic.
How Does Acid Affect Teeth?
Every time you drink or eat, bacteria in your mouth mix with the sugars and acids found in foods to create a buildup called plaque. When this build up is left to its own devices it can cause cavities and gum disease. Acid such as the acid found in chlorinated water is particularly harmful because it can destroy the hard white coating surrounding your teeth called tooth enamel. A pH scale is used to measure the acidity of a substance and anything with a pH level lower than six can cause irreversible damage to your tooth enamel. Since pool water that has been over chlorinated often has a pH level below six, your teeth and your children’s teeth for that matter are constantly being bombarded every time you and your family take a dip in the pool.
Swimmers Calculus; Chlorine Stains on Teeth
Chlorine is used in drinking water and swimming pools across the country as a type of disinfectant to kill harmful bacteria. While the chlorine found in tap water is not enough to cause dental issues, swimming laps or soaking in a Jacuzzi can expose you to levels of chlorinated water which can play havoc on your tooth enamel. According to dental professionals patients should be concerned when pool water seeps into their mouths during their leisurely swim time. In fact research studies indicated the increasing connection between pools that have been incorrectly chlorinated and tooth damage with particular significance on pool water which has a pH level which falls below 7. As the enamel on your teeth begins to break down, your teeth will not only look yellowed and discolored but the edges of your teeth may begin to appear translucent. As the enamel continues to break down you may feel sensitivity when ingesting hot or cold liquids or foods.
Swimming Teeth Protection
How do you know when it is safe to take a swim? Take a look around you next time you visit your local pool or take a vacation. Pay particular attention to the railings, pool liners and ladders. Over chlorinated water will begin to break down these surfaces causing obvious damage. Imagine the water doing the same thing to the surface of your teeth and consider taking a pass and finding another activity. You can also purchase pool pH strips at your local pool supply store which will allow you to test the water before getting in. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the ideal chlorine level for pool water is between 7.2 and 7.8. If you own your own home, you should test your pools pH balance weekly or better yet hire a professional to make sure your water is maintained at optimal levels during the summer months. To keep damage in check, brush with a soft bristled toothpaste and don’t forget to schedule regular checkups and cleanings for you and your family.
Pediatric Dental Care