Swimming in the summer is the perfect way to cool down from hot, unbearably humid days. With so many different people swimming in their backyard pools and at local pools, though, pool owners must treat the water to keep the water safe for everyone. Harmful bacteria in pools are typically killed with chlorine, an antimicrobial agent.
While chlorine is a great chemical disinfectant, too much chlorine in a pool can have negative effects on your teeth. Though also found in small amounts in tap water, excessive amounts of chlorine in swimming water can prove detrimental to your enamel.
According to Colgate, pools containing too much chlorine have pH levels that can cause enamel erosion. When enamel wears down, teeth may become discolored, the edges of front teeth may look transparent and, in later stages, extreme dental sensitivity sets in when consuming hot or cold foods. Worse, once enamel erodes, chips or cracks, the body cannot repair it.
A study done by researchers at New York University College of Dentistry revealed the effects of high pH levels in swimming pools. The study was based on a 52-year-old man whose complaints included extremely sensitive teeth, dark staining and rapid enamel loss during a five-month period.
The NYU team of researchers concluded the enamel loss was due to the patient’s 90-minute swimming exercise routine he started in the summer, and improper chlorination was ruled to be responsible for the patient’s dental issues. The man had never had professional maintenance done on his pool, and ended up with high pH levels in the swimming water.
So how can you protect your teeth from too much chlorine exposure? Because the pH levels in swimming water are not visible, there are a few things to check out for before you take a swim.
If you are a homeowner and want to maintain your own pool, check your pool’s pH balance once a week at minimum, and if you can, hire a specialist to examine it upon your first use each year. If you’re going to swim in a public pool or on vacation, look at the pool linings, ladders and railings. Water that is too acidic will eat away at such surfaces and produce faded colors, and can do the same to your teeth as well. You could also consider buying some pH strips to test the water before going in. According to the CDC, pool water should register between 7.2 and 7.8 on the pH scale.
Test your swimming water this summer to avoid overexposure to chlorine and make sure your teeth stay healthy in any conditions. Of course, another part of keeping your teeth healthy is seeing your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. To schedule your next appointment, call Brockport Dental today at 585-589-0000 or request a time online now.