June 11, 2017
Finally, summer has arrived. It was a long winter, and now your kids can’t wait to jump into that swimming pool. Whether it’s one in your own backyard, a neighbor’s pool, or one owned by the park district or city, summer is the exact time when kids should be swimming.
Although it can be great exercise and fun, you have to be careful. Believe it or not, swimming pools can hurt your children’s teeth and gums. That’s why you need to call our Norton Shores, MI dental office at 231-366-4182 for a family dentistry appointment.
Why There’s Chlorine In That Pool
The problem is not with the water or the pool. It comes from the chlorine in the pool’s water.
By law, pools have to use some kind of disinfectant. That’s because standing water is a perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Swimming in an untreated pool is a sure way to get very sick. Even the Center for Disease Control says pools should have chlorine (or something similar) in the water.
How does chlorine help? It dramatically increases the acidity in the water. Acid is just as bad as you think, although many acids aren’t harmful to humans. When the pool’s water has a pH level around 11, that means the water is very non-acidic. This is where bacteria can grow wild.
But if you add chlorine, you can increase the acidity. This makes the water toxic to harmful bacteria. Unfortunately, such acidic pool water can also be a danger to your kids’ smiles.
How Chlorine Hurts Your Child’s Teeth & Gums
Don’t worry, you’re children are not going to come out of the pool with black, corroded teeth. Chlorine damages teeth very slowly. But the damage leads to major problems and dental treatments, so being aware of how acidic water hurts teeth can really come in handy.
Here’s what chlorinated water can do to teeth.
Normally, your enamel is white. It can start to darken over the years thanks to dark foods and drinks that leave stains behind. Although chlorinated water is not dark, it can still discolor the enamel. People who swim often are at risk for “swimmer’s calculus,” a darkening of the teeth thanks to the chlorine.
Your mouth depends on saliva to wash away food particles. These end up feeding harmful bacteria present in your mouth, leading to more cavities and gum disease. Chlorine will dry out your mouth. Without saliva, there is more food to feed those bacteria and your chance of dental health problems increases.
Acid erodes stuff. While the chlorinated water is a weak acid, it still starts to erode your enamel as soon as it gets on your teeth. And since it’s making your mouth dry, saliva isn’t there to wash away the acid. That’s why swimming in chlorinated water will eventually lead to weak teeth that are prone to cavities and damage.
As the enamel on your teeth begins to erode and weaken due to the acidic water, they can start to give you some discomfort during chewing. Normally, your enamel protects the sensitive nerve endings inside a tooth. But as the enamel gets thin in spots, temperature and pressure can start to reach those nerves. That’s why you can have pain when chewing, especially foods that are very hot or cold.
What You Can Do To Help
Kids deserve to swim around and have a good time. Even you deserve that! So here are some tips for limiting the damage that chlorine in pool water might cause.
- Visit a family dentist regularly. Our highly qualified Norton Shores dentists can examine your teeth thoroughly to see if there are any problems being caused by pool water.
- Have your kids rinse then brush after swimming. Rinsing with plain water helps get rid of acid on the teeth, while the fluoride in toothpaste can help repair microscopic damage to the enamel.
- Have your kids drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated can help avoid dry mouth and the dental problems of not having enough saliva.
- Keep your pool’s pH level around 7.5. That level of acidity is the sweet spot for killing any bacteria in the water without causing problems for your kids’ teeth.
Call us TODAY at 231-366-4182 or use our convenient online form to schedule a family dentistry appointment with our Norton Shores dentists. Dental exams are the only way to make sure your kids’ smiles aren’t being hurt by swimming pools this summer.