Many people have pools, and for good reason. The Alabama summer gets hot! Taking a dip in the family pool on a hot day can really make a difference, and it’s something your kids probably love to do. But did you know that the chlorine used in pools can hurt your family’s teeth and gums?
Call our Birmingham, AL dental office today at 205-545-8007 and make a new appointment for family dentistry. Dr. Perrigo is your Birmingham dentist with the right combination of training and experience to help your family protect their teeth.
Why There’s Chlorine In Pools
Why do people add chlorine to pools? To kill any bacteria in it.
The problem with a pool is that the water can get stagnant. This is a great environment for harmful bacteria to grow. If you never treated your pool water, then swimming in it could get everyone very sick.
To get rid of those bacteria, people treat their pools with chlorine. This chemical increases the pH level of the water, making it more acidic. Once it’s acidic enough, any bacteria in the water die off. In other words, chlorine makes the pool water safe to swim in. In fact, the CDC strongly recommends that pool owners treat the water like this.
How Chlorine Damages Your Teeth
Although chlorine makes the water safe to enjoy, this creates a problem for your family’s smiles. That’s because chlorine makes the water highly acidic. Here are the four biggest dental problems caused by chlorinated water.
Like anything acidic, chlorine will interfere with your body’s ability to make saliva. A dry mouth might not sound too bad, but this raises your risk of cavities and gum disease. That’s because the harmful bacteria behind both need food particles to survive and multiply.
These food particles get stuck in your mouth whenever you eat and drink. Saliva normally helps wash away some of those, helping keep those bacteria under control. But with a dry mouth, that doesn’t happen. This is why chlorine leads to a higher risk of cavities and gum disease.
Chlorine interacts with your enamel and can make it discolored. In fact, it’s called “swimmer’s calculus” because this is a serious problem for professional swimmers. Swim too much, and your family’s teeth can start to darken and look brown and discolored.
Plus, saliva normally helps wash away some of the stuff that stains your teeth (such as coffee, tea, chocolate, etc.). If you have a dry mouth thanks to chlorine, then you don’t have the saliva needed to stop that staining from happening.
Chlorine makes your family’s teeth weaker in two ways. First, saliva has trace minerals in it that soak into enamel and makes it stronger. But more importantly, any acid will erode away some of your enamel. Since chlorine works by making pool water acidic, it can do that to your family’s teeth. Even if everyone keeps their mouth shut while swimming, some chlorinated water seeps in and coats your teeth.
The enamel on your teeth isn’t just there to look good. It protects the sensitive dental pulp inside your teeth. This is where all the tooth’s nerve endings are located, so enamel helps make sure your teeth don’t hurt when you eat and drink.
As the acidic pool water begins to erode teeth, the enamel gets thinner. This lets temperature and pressure reach the nerve endings, making your teeth sensitive.
How To Help Protect Your Family’s Teeth
While it’s not like these problems will suddenly happen after one quick dip in the chlorinated pool, you still need to be careful. These are the kinds of problems that can creep up on you. Here are a few tips to help protect your family’s teeth from chlorine.
- Maintain the pool’s pH level near 7.5: This is the perfect spot to balance protecting everyone’s teeth with keeping the pool’s water safe for swimming.
- Stay hydrated: If dry mouth is a problem, then it makes sense to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Rinse then brush with toothpaste after swimming: Rinsing first helps get rid of acid on your teeth. Then brushing with a fluoride toothpaste can strengthen your enamel.
- Visit our Birmingham dentist regularly: Dr. Perrigo is trained to identify and treat many dental problems, including those caused by too much chlorine in pools.