Child swimming

Avoid Potential Dental Health Risks While Swimming

As summer comes to an end, you and your family may want to try and get a few outdoor swims into your vacations. Getting into the pool and swimming is a great activity because it encourages exercise and is a fun way to bond with loved ones. It’s also an excellent activity for sports, especially for children and teenagers while growing up. Swimming, overall, is one of the easiest ways to exercise your entire body and have fun at the same time. However, there’s always a caveat with activities such as these. Swimming pools, depending on the chlorination levels, can harm our teeth and gums over time without proper care. Daily exposure to chlorinated water can increase the risk of tooth discoloration, enamel erosion, and toothaches over time. 

So, if you want to be able to swim and care for your teeth, we’re here to provide this small guide for the rest of the summer on how to best care for your teeth while swimming. 

The Risks To Your Teeth From Swimming Pools 

Swimming is an excellent way to improve your cardiovascular health, endurance levels, and muscles over time. It’s an all-around body workout that improves lung capacity, muscle tone, and muscle strength, all while keeping you slim and fit. For children, it’s a great way for children to keep them exercising, help get any excess energy out of their system, and give them a great social avenue for playtime and friends. But when it comes to your teeth and gums, they’re most often susceptible to the amount of chlorine found in those swimming pools we all know and love. 

Even swimmers that swim competitively will go out of their way to protect their teeth because studies have shown that competitive swimmers experience dental erosion and various other dental issues over time. This is most often due to the amount of chlorine exposure they experience while swimming competitively. Chlorine has various components that can lead to dental problems, such as: 

  • Tooth Discoloration: The anti-microbials and chemical additives found in swimming pools are normally used to break down bacteria and help prevent swimming pools from spreading diseases. However, these chemical additives also break down saliva proteins, which can ultimately decrease saliva production in people’s mouths and lead to tooth discoloration. 
  • Toothaches: Many swimmers often report toothaches or sensitive teeth, mainly due to the constant exposure to chlorinated water. However, diving and swimming underwater for long periods can cause barometric stress for the body. The inner pulp and root channels inside the teeth can become sensitive due to that stress. 
  • Plaque and Erosion: Because saliva production decreases from an over-exposure to chlorine, its additives, and barometric stress, it can make it easier for bacteria to build up, causing an increased amount of plaque to develop along with the enamel. This plaque can cause the enamel to wear down over time and increase the risk of cavities and gum disease. 

Wear A Mouthguard While Swimming This Summer 

When caring for your teeth this summer, the best place to start is to have you and your children wear mouthguards, especially if you all intend on swimming competitively throughout the summer or throughout the year. If you’re worried about the amount of chlorine in your pools, checking the pH levels can help you become more aware of what you’re swimming in and help you take care of your teeth this summer.

Maureen Karl, DDS, FAGD
As a graduate of the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine in 2004, Dr. Maureen Karl continues to hone her craft through continuing education. Dental patients throughout the Granbury, TX area know they can rely on our practice for skilled dental care using the latest practices.