There’s nothing quite like hopping in a cool swimming pool during these hot summer days. It’s relaxing, it’s fun, and it’s good for you! Swimming is a summer favorite for the team at our Madison dental office, but there are a few things we want to warn you about when it comes to your pool water.
The Dangers of Pool Water
Swimming pools are often sanitized using a combination of chemicals, including chlorine. This chlorine helps keep harmful bacteria from swimming around in your pool water and protects you and your family. It also plays a role in the water’s pH level. However, if proper balance isn’t maintained, your pool water could put your teeth at risk.
Pool water should be kept at a safe pH level at all times — usually between 7.2 and 7.8. If the pH drops below this safe zone, it becomes acidic and can cause eyes to burn, skin to become irritated, and tooth enamel to erode.
Acidic Water and Enamel Erosion
Enamel is the hard coating surrounding each tooth’s surface and protects teeth against bacteria, decay, and sensitivity. It’s one of the hardest materials in our bodies, but that doesn’t make it unbreakable. Enamel can erode due to a diet high in acid, brushing too hard, or yes, swimming in a pool with a low pH. Of course, those who spend a lot of time in the pool like competitive swimmers are at greater risk for this type of enamel erosion.
This correlation between pool water with a low pH and enamel erosion dates back to the 1980’s. In fact, one study showed that nearly 40% of competitive swimmers had some level of enamel erosion. Continued research appears to support the notion that pool water may, in fact, put tooth enamel and oral health at risk.
What to Look For
The first sign that your pool’s pH may be too low is burning eyes or irritated skin. But when it comes to your teeth, the signs may take a bit longer to show up. There are two main signs you may be suffering from pool-induced tooth problems — increased sensitivity or unexplained brown spots on your teeth, known as swimmer’s calculus. If you’re noticing signs of a dental problem, call your dentist in Madison as soon as possible.
How to Keep Your Smile Safe
If you’re going to spend some time a pool this summer, make sure to test the water regularly to ensure it’s at a safe pH level. Additionally, try to keep pool water out of your mouth as much as possible. And of course, always brush and floss properly and maintain regular appointments at our Madison dental office.