It’s that time of year again when you pack up the kids, the snacks, and the water toys and head out to the local swimming pool. But our team at Precise Dental of Houston wants you to know about some of the effects that chlorine can have on your family’s teeth and gums.
Before you take a dip, it’s important to have the right information so you can better protect the smiles of everyone in your family. Today’s blog will share some of the dangers of highly chlorinated water so your trips to the swimming pool don’t threaten your oral health.
In the meantime, we invite you to give our Houston dental office a call today to schedule a dental cleaning and exam. Dr. Crouse has the skills and experience to keep your mouth healthy, not just during the summer months, but all year long.
You might be wondering why people would even need to add chlorine to a swimming pool if it really poses any kind of threat to your teeth and gums. It’s not something anyone likes to think about, but a swimming pool would be crawling with harmful bacteria were it not for the acids in chlorine that kill it.
When standing water isn’t treated, it becomes a stagnant haven for nasty bacteria. Swimming pools would end up the same way without chlorine. We won’t go into too much detail, but chlorine kills much of the bacteria floating around in a pool that might otherwise make you really sick.
The amount of acid in a swimming pool is measured by what’s called it’s pH level. When a pool doesn’t have enough acidity to kill the bacteria, it’ll thrive there, making the water unsafe. So adding chlorine will help balance the acidity level so people can swim in it.
Given the number of bodies splashing around, coupled with the hot outside temperatures, it makes perfect sense that a public swimming pool would have much higher levels of chlorine in it than a private pool.
When a pool is deemed safe, that only means that the water won’t make you sick. It doesn’t mean that it’s totally safe for your smile. Here are a few potential oral health problems that chlorine can cause:
Chlorine Can Cause Tooth Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity refers to those times when you eat or drink something that’s too hot or too cold, it can be painful. One of the reasons this happens is because of erosion of tooth enamel that leaves the nerve endings inside your teeth to become vulnerable.
Your teeth are normally shielded in a protective coating of saliva. But chlorine can dry out your mouth of that saliva, which allows acid to erode your enamel much more easily. Eventually, your enamel will become thin and create that sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures and to the pressure of your bite force while eating, both of which can be really painful.
Chlorine Can Weaken Your Tooth Enamel
It may surprise you, but just like with acidic drinks, such as soft drinks and fruit juice, chlorinated water can erode your tooth enamel. It’s not enough to just keep your mouth closed while you swim because some of that water is going to find its way inside your mouth and coat your teeth in acid.
Chlorine Can Discolor Your Teeth
It’s actually much more common than you might think, but chlorinated water can turn your teeth into a darkened, almost brownish color. In the same way your saliva protects your enamel from erosion, it also creates a protective barrier between your teeth and the dark pigments in your food and drinks from staining your teeth. Without the saliva, the color of your teeth becomes much more vulnerable.
Chlorine Can Cause Dry Mouth
As we’ve mentioned before, chlorine can dry your mouth out by inhibiting your ability to produce saliva. Not only does your saliva protect your enamel, it is your body’s natural way of washing away food particles and other acids. When you have dry mouth, then, you increase your risk of things like decay, cavities, and gum disease because the saliva isn’t there to keep your mouth clean of harmful bacteria.
We’re definitely not saying you should steer clear of the local public pool, but since you’re not in control of the pool’s pH levels, there are things you can do to help protect your smile.
You can use a toothpaste with fluoride in it so your enamel stays strong. Brushing and flossing after you take a dip will help wash away the acids left behind from your swim. You should also stay nice and hydrated to prevent dry mouth by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.