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How does chlorine in pools affect my teeth?

People spend countless hours swimming during the summer because of the exercise and fun.

However, pools present a hazard to your teeth because of the pH balance caused by chlorine and other chemicals in the water. Take a look at how chlorine affects your teeth.

What chlorine does to your teeth

Chlorine is a necessary chemical disinfectant in pools that is required by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Several other chemicals are also found in pools that contribute to the pH level. Chlorine is one of the leading causes of teeth discoloration and many people aren’t aware of the problem because you can’t see the pH balance of a pool.

“Swimmer’s calculus” is a condition where frequent swimmers experience discolored front teeth.  

This is because pools have a high pH level that stains teeth brown and prevents saliva from doing its job in cleansing the mouth. Poor pH balance in a pool can also cause the enamel of teeth to soften, making teeth more susceptible to damage and decay, as well as more sensitive in general.

As the enamel of your teeth wears down from exposure to chlorine, it becomes discolored. Once the enamel erodes, it can’t be repaired. Poor enamel health is common in competitive swimmers because of prolonged exposure to chlorine. However, anyone who frequently swims can experience poor enamel and tooth sensitivity, which leads to other health issues, like heart disease.

How to protect your teeth from chlorine

The biggest thing you can do to prevent chlorine damage to your teeth is to keep your mouth shut while you’re in the pool. It’s practically impossible to prevent all water from getting into your mouth, but you shouldn’t welcome it in. The less amount of pool water you get in your mouth, the better. Try to keep your kids from drinking pool water and instill this attitude as early as possible.

Another important thing to do to prevent chlorine damage on your teeth is to brush and floss your teeth as soon as you get out of the pool. You don’t want the chlorine to sit on your teeth any longer than necessary. There is no replacement for good oral hygiene. When you combine the acidity of pool water with mouth bacteria and food, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. So, always bring your toothbrush along when you go to a public pool.

If you are a frequent swimmer, look for a toothpaste with MI Paste and xylitol additives because the calcium and phosphorus in these products help fight the acid caused by pools better than regular toothpaste. Baking soda is also helpful.

The next time you go to a public pool, take note of the condition of ladders, railings, and pool linings. Acidic water eats away at these things. It can do the same thing to your teeth. If the ladders are in very poor shape, consider going to a different pool where the pH level is monitored more closely. Alternatively, you can check the pH level of a pool yourself with a common pH strip. A pool should read between 7.2 and 7.8 on the scale.

Carefully watch the pH balance of your home pool

If you have your own pool, you can minimize the chlorine and muriatic acid additives in your pool to better control its pH balance and lessen the negative effects on your teeth. A saltwater filtration system is one solution that will also keep algae, bacteria, fungus, and other pool problems at bay. You can also use ozone as an alternative to high levels of chlorine. When used together, a saltwater filtration system and ozone can improve the pH balance of your pool, making it safer for your teeth.

When you use a public pool, you have no say in how much chlorine is in the water. You also have no say in who is allowed to use the pool. That means people could urinate in the pool or spread disease. In general, public pools require more chlorine and chemicals than home pools because of the number of people that use them, which creates a more acidic environment for your teeth. Pool owners are required to monitor their pools for algae and other problems and then treat the water to prevent the spread of disease. Chlorine is the most common pool treatment.

If you like to swim, be aware that your teeth can get damaged, especially if you don’t take the necessary precautions. Watch out for high pH levels and always bring your toothbrush.

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Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice.
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