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Can Swimming in a Pool Hurt Your Teeth?

young girl swimming in a pool and smiling

Now that school’s out and the sun’s blazing, it’s time to hit the local pool! Swimming is one of the best ways to cool down during the warmer months – it’s refreshing and a great form of exercise! But did you know it can affect your oral health? It may surprise you to learn that too much swimming can actually be bad for your teeth. Read on to find out swimming is harmful and what you can do to keep your smile safe this season.

Why Is Chlorine Used in Water?

Many years ago, thousands of people died annually from various waterborne diseases. Now, chlorine is used in drinking water, hot tubs, and pools to kill harmful bacteria and maintain cleanliness. It protects you from hazardous germs that can make you sick with illnesses that cause symptoms like diarrhea, skin rashes, ear pain, coughing, congestion, and eye pain. While the amount of chlorine in tap water is not enough to cause dental problems, frequent swimming in treated pools and jacuzzies can have detrimental effects on your teeth.

How Does Chlorine Hurt Your Teeth?

The CDC recommends that the pH levels of chlorinated water be between 7.2 and 7.8. When the pH is outside of this range, the water becomes corrosive and can cause enamel erosion, leaving your teeth brittle and sensitive.

Try to avoid swimming in overly chlorinated water to keep your smile safe. As a rule of thumb, you can tell the pH of water is too low when the smell causes your eyes to water and nose to burn. If you have a pool or hot tub at home, make sure you have the chlorine levels evaluated by a professional to ensure they’re within a safe range!

Tips to Protect Your Smile

The following tips can help you spot potential problems and protect your smile:

  • Keep your mouth closed. By closing your mouth while swimming, you can minimize chlorine exposure to your teeth.
  • Look for signs of high acidity. Do you notice signs of acid eating away at the surfaces of pool linings, railings, and ladders? If so, your teeth will be affected too.
  • Test water with pH strips. By testing the pH levels, you can ensure the water is properly chlorinated before jumping in. You can purchase pH strips at any local recreational supply store.
  • Use fluoride. Drinking fluoridated water and using fluoride toothpaste can strengthen the enamel on your teeth to prevent erosion.  
  • Visit your dentist. Your dentist can prevent, catch, or treat enamel erosion as early as possible with routine checkups and examinations.

Take proper precautions to partake in your favorite summer activity without putting your teeth at risk. By following the tips highlighted above, you can maintain a happy and healthy smile all season long!

About the Author

Dr. Greg Ritchie brings over 18 years of experience to Ritchie Dental Group. He has a passion for continuing education and stays up to date on all the advancements in the medical and dental field. Dr. Ritchie has the skill, knowledge, and expertise to help you achieve and maintain a healthy smile that lasts. Before you go swimming, schedule a checkup via our website to ensure your teeth are in optimal condition.  


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