You know that good dental care includes regular brushing and flossing. These activities remove the bacteria from the surface of the teeth, bacteria that can erode your dental enamel, allowing caries (cavities) to form.
But the truth is that we need to brush our teeth when we come into contact with anything that is harmful to our dental enamel. One culprit that we may not necessarily consider is pool water.
Swimmers whose faces are submerged in the water whether for fun or for lap swimming increase their teeth’s exposure to the pool water. In general, exposure to pool water isn’t so damaging. What can cause deleterious effects, however, is pool water that has low pH, which is a measure of the water’s acidity. When the pool water pH dips too low, the water becomes acidic and can erode teeth enamel.
Typically, well-maintained public pools have regular maintenance schedules, often times required by public health authorities. These maintenance routines include testing the pH and adding chemicals to the pool to restore the pool water to appropriate pH levels, which range between 7.2 and 7.8. However, swimming in a privately owned swimming pool means that you must assess if the pool water is being regularly monitored and appropriately treated.
“Pool teeth” isn’t pretty; it can include teeth sensitivity, staining and enamel loss. To prevent this, make sure you are swimming in a well-maintained pool. If you are the owner, be sure to monitor pH and adjust the chemicals if necessary.
If you are swimming somewhere and your eyes begin to burn or your nose burns, this is a sign that the pH is too low. When the pH is too low, the chlorine is also not working appropriately and is not disinfecting appropriately, allowing harmful bacteria to thrive, in addition to contributing to the dental enamel decay. If you find yourself in this situation, we recommend you end your swimming session and pick up your toothbrush!
If you want to take real control of the situation, you can purchase pool pH test strips and run the tests wherever you swim.