Now that the weather is warmer, your family can really enjoy swimming in pools. Sure, the lake is nice — but that water is so cold! Taking a dip in a pool (either yours, a friend’s, or a community pool) is a great summer treat.
However, you need to know that chlorine in those pools can hurt your family’s teeth. If you are not careful, your family could have a higher risk of cavities, gum disease, stained teeth, and more. That’s why you need to call our Racine, WI dental office today at 262-417-7326. Family dentistry appointments with our Racine dentists can find any problems created or made worse by all that chlorine.
What’s Chlorine Used For?
The reason so many pools have chlorine in the water is to stop you from getting sick. Water that just sits there is a fertile breeding ground for harmful bacteria. That’s why the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) requires pool owners to use something to treat the water. While there are other ways to kill those bacteria, chlorine is cheaper and easier to find.
How does chlorine help? The same reason that it can hurt your family’s teeth: By making the water acidic.
If a pool has a pH level around 11, that’s actually low. It means there’s hardly any acid in the water. This is exactly what bacteria need to thrive and multiply. Chlorine adds acid to the water, bringing the pH level up to where the bacteria cannot survive. After all, this is acid. It erodes most of what it can touch.
Dental Problems Caused By Chlorine
Now, it’s not like one afternoon in a chlorinated pool will suddenly cause teeth to fall apart. Chlorine isn’t that strong. But over time, it can damage your family’s smiles. Even if you keep your mouth shut when under water, some chlorine will get on your teeth. Here’s why that’s a problem for your dental health.
Enamel does more than just look good. It protects the nerve endings deep inside your tooth. Because chlorinated water is so acidic, it begins to erode that enamel. This lets temperature and pressure from eating reach the nerve endings. That’s why you can have teeth sensitive to hot or cold foods or some that hurt when you chew.
That erosion of your enamel creates another problem for your family’s smiles. By eroding some of the enamel, it makes the tooth weaker. Those worn spots are more likely to get cavities or damage like chips and cracks.
Besides eroding some of your enamel, the chlorine in pools can lead to a brownish discoloration known as “swimmer’s calculus.” People who swim in pools often can have dark teeth even if they brush regularly.
Chlorine actually dries out your mouth, reducing how much saliva you produce. That’s a problem several ways. First. Saliva helps wash away food particles that feed harmful bacteria. In other words, your chances of getting cavities or gum disease go up. Saliva is also full of calcium and trace minerals that strengthen enamel. With a dry mouth, there’s less of that going on.
Protect Your Family’s Smiles
But what can you do besides not enjoy pools in the summer? Here are four tips that can help reduce the damage done by chlorine in pool water.
- Rinse and then brush after swimming. Rinsing first helps get rid of acid before you push it deeper into your enamel with brushing. Then brush with a fluoride toothpaste to help strengthen your enamel.
- Make an appointment with our Racine dentists. Regular dental exams and checkups help make sure your family’s smiles aren’t being hurt by chlorine. If there are any problems, you can get them fixed before chlorine makes them worse.
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is always important, but this also prevents dry mouth.
- Make sure the pool’s pH level is around 7.5. This is the right balance between protecting your teeth and keeping the pool’s water healthy.
Call us today at 262-417-7326 or use our convenient online form to schedule your next family dentistry appointment. Our Racine dentists work great with children, so they are well suited to helping your family have healthy, bright smiles just like you want.