Swim Away From Dental Erosion This Summer By Mark Tall on June 27, 2016

Summertime is finally here. The sun is gracing us with its presence more and more. The days are long and warm. As summertime hits full swing, you and your family are probably coming up with ways to cool off from the daytime heat in Idaho Falls.
chlorine and enamel erosion

There’s nothing like taking a refreshing dip in some cool water on a hot sunny day. Chances are that you and your kids will be spending a lot of time at the pool this summer. It’s not truly summertime, until you’ve spent the day splashing around in the pool, playing marco polo with your kids, and soaking up the vitamin D. As you’re aware, pools need chlorine to help fight off harmful bacteria and stop the potential spread of infection.

Besides turning your hair green when you’re in it too much, chlorine is relatively harmless. However, one hidden side effect of too much pool time is its effect on your teeth. A healthy mouth has a neutral pH, if the pH gets too basic or acidic, then you’re bound to suffer from dental erosion.

Cavities are typically caused by an overabundance of acid in the mouth. Usually the acid is created by bacteria; however, sometimes enamel erosion is caused by direct exposure to acids. This is why the acids found in soft drinks are so awful for your teeth. Another direct exposure that can wreak havoc on your enamel is chlorinated pool water.

Chlorine’s Effect On Your Teeth

When pools that aren’t well maintained have too much chlorine in them, the water can cause enamel erosion. Recently, there have been an abundance of studies linking swimming in chlorinated pools and dental problems.

In 2010, New York University’s College of Dentistry did a study on a male patient, who was experiencing discolored teeth, ultra sensitive teeth, and accelerated enamel erosion. Over the course of 5 months, the patient swam for 90 minutes in his backyard. The author of the study came to the conclusion that his enamel erosion was caused by improper chlorine regulation. The study found that your pool water becomes hazardous for your teeth when the pool’s pH drops below 7.

Another study in Virginia looked at the teeth of competitive swimmers that practiced at a private club pool. About 39% of the swimmers in the study experienced symptoms of enamel erosion, like transparent or yellow teeth, gritty teeth, or pain when chewing. Other symptoms of enamel erosion include sensitivity to hot and cold food and drink or chalky white teeth. While a little bit of enamel erosion might not seem like a big deal, it can lead to eventual breaks and chips in your teeth, so it’s important that you take some steps to safeguard your teeth, while enjoying the summertime fun.

Keeping Your Teeth Healthy This Summer

If you’re swimming in a public pool, there’s no way to know if it’s a healthy pH, unless you have an inside scoop from the lifeguard. The best way to keep your teeth healthy during a summertime dip is by keeping the pool water out of your mouth.

Sometimes getting pool water in your mouth is inevitable. You’ve probably gotten an unwelcome mouthful before, while splashing or trying to come up for a breath in the water. If you have children, talk to them about keeping the water out of their mouth. It’s much more common for kids to absentmindedly swish with pool water, when they’re playing around.

Another way to safeguard against dental erosion is by using a soft-bristled toothbrush, using fluoride toothpaste, and going to your dentist for regular teeth cleanings. Hard bristle brushes are notorious for scrubbing away your tooth’s enamel. As always, make sure you make it in for your six month cleanings. If you’re going to the pool more than usual, give your dentist a heads up.

This way, we can keep an eye on your enamel, making sure that your pool isn’t causing more harm than fun. If your dentist notices severe enamel erosion, it might be time to switch pool memberships and find a pool that regulates their chlorine better.


Dr. Mark Tall

Sandcreek Dental

Dr. Mark Tall and his team in Idaho Falls are dedicated to providing an exceptional dental experience with:

  • Comprehensive care
  • State-of-the-art technology
  • Family-oriented approach
  • Genuine patient relationships

To schedule your consultation, contact us online or call us at (208) 525-4780

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