Swimmer’s ear. Sunburns. Hair tinged green by chlorinated water. It’s no secret that swimming in a pool comes with its share of minor inconveniences. What many don’t realize is that spending hours in the pool can also have consequences for your teeth. Dr. Todd Pizzi, who offers dental exams and teeth cleaning in Shrewsbury, MA, discusses the little-known effects of swimming pools and teeth, noting that these guidelines apply primarily to anyone who spends six or more hours in the swimming pool within a single week.
Chlorine and other chemicals are necessary to maintain the pH of pool water, as well as to prevent the spread of infection. Dr. Pizzi points out that any acidic substance–citrus fruits and juices, for poses threats to your oral health. Whether teeth are exposed to these acids by ingesting these substances or by direct contact while swimming does not necessarily matter to your mouth–acid is acid.
Erosion of Tooth Enamel
Within seconds of coming into contact with your teeth, acid begins to gradually eat away at the enamel that covers each teeth. If you have strong, healthy tooth enamel to begin with, you are less likely to experience the unpleasant effects of acid. However, someone who already has thinning or worn-down enamel will find the effect compounded. As a result, you become more prone to temperature sensitivity and tooth decay.
Calculus Buildup on Teeth
The effects of exposure to pool water become even more destructive when the swimmer does not practice excellent oral hygiene. In the pool or out, failure to remove all traces of food, bacteria, and plaque results in the formation of what we call swimmer’s calculus. Swimmer’s calculus is easily identifiable as an almost cement-like deposit of tartar, appearing brown in color. Once it hardens, it’s all but impossible to remove with your own toothbrush. If you notice calculus, which usually affects your front teeth, consider scheduling a professional teeth cleaning and exam at our office.
A Simple, Effective Tip
Obviously, you wouldn’t drink pool water to satiate your thirst. However, we recommend keeping a bottle of water nearby at all times while swimming. After every 30-45 minutes, or more frequently if you feel thirsty, rinse your mouth with the bottled water. We find that swishing the water in your mouth for half a minute works nicely.
Keep smiling, swimmers! To learn more about preventive dental care, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Todd Pizzi, contact Modern Dentistry of Shrewsbury at (508) 842-8838. We welcome patients living in and around Worcester, North and South Grafton, Westborough, Southborough, and Northborough.