Posted by & filed under General Dentistry, Health, Oral Care, Prevention.

two young girls swimmingIt’s summertime, and that probably means you and your family are spending more time outside playing and even cooling off in the pool. At our pediatric dental office in Long Island, we know just how fun taking dip in a cool swimming pool can be, not to mention it’s great exercise for kids and adults alike. However, it may surprise you to hear that pool water may be damaging your family’s tooth enamel.

What’s the Purpose of Chlorine?

Chlorine is an antimicrobial agent added to most public pools and many backyard ones, too. Its purpose is to kill any harmful bacteria that may lurking around in the water so a summer swim doesn’t make you sick. Chlorine may also be added to a public water supply for the same reason, just in much lower doses than a swimming pool.

Why is Chlorine a Dental Concern?

Even though most pool water is tested regularly to stay within the recommended chlorine levels, many times there are pools that have too much of the stuff. This means that as you and your kids are splashing around having a blast, droplets of this chlorine-packed H²0 are getting in your mouths. While chlorine in small amounts isn’t dangerous to teeth, too much of it can be cause for concern.

Low pH Levels

Too much chlorine typically also means a low pH level, which is the first concern. A low pH level means the water is more on the acidic side, and just like acidic foods, acidic water can weaken tooth enamel, leaving teeth at risk for damage and decay. Weak enamel may also increase tooth sensitivity and lead to tooth discoloration.

Swimmer’s Calculus

The second concern is related to the chlorine itself. As teeth are continuously exposed to highly chlorinated water they may begin to take on a brown appearance. Since this condition is most commonly found in competitive swimmers it’s earned the name “Swimmer’s calculus,” but it can affect anyone who spends a lot of time in the pool.

How to Protect Teeth Against Chlorine

Even though pools with too much chlorine content can negatively affect oral health, it doesn’t mean your family can’t enjoy a swim whenever they want. However, there are ways to reduce the risk of chlorine-caused discoloration including:

  • Keeping Mouths Closed
  • Brushing After Swimming
  • Keeping the pH Between 7.2 and 7.8

The team at our Long Island pediatric dental office is here to help keep your little one’s smile healthy all year long. Make sure she’s visiting us twice a year to keep tooth enamel strong and teeth protected.