Summer in northern Indiana is a wonderful time of year. Sure, it’s not football season yet, but the weather is absolutely beautiful. Now that it’s warm enough, your kids will want to play in the pool. But whether it’s your own pool, a friend’s, or one owned by your community, you need to know how chlorine in the water can hurt their teeth — and yours.
Call our South Bend, IN dental office today at 574-208-5668 to schedule your next family dentistry appointment. Chlorinated water can increase your chances of cavities, gum disease, discolored teeth, and more. That’s why you need a thorough dental exam from our South Bend dentist. Catching any problems early means it will be easier (and cheaper) to treat it.
Why Your Pool Needs Some Chlorine
Why do pools have chlorine in them? It’s to keep the water safe for your body. It’s just unfortunate that this can also be unsafe for your smile.
The problem with pools is that it’s a great breeding ground for bacteria. If you swim in an untreated pool, there’s a good chance you’ll get sick. That’s why the CDC tells people to put something in pools to treat the water and fight those bacteria.
That’s exactly what chlorine does. It kills bacteria in pool water by making the water too acidic. Acid erodes stuff and does not make a good living environment. While there are other ways to treat pool water like this, chlorine is cheap and easy to use, so it’s often found in pools all over the country.
Dental Problems From Chlorine
Chlorine is not good for anyone’s teeth, yours or your kids’. It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. The problems below are more long-term. But unless you expect your kids to swim in a pool only once per year, you need to be aware of how chlorine damages your teeth and gums.
Part of why your teeth have enamel is to protect the nerves on the inside. Without it, you would feel pain whenever you chew. How does chlorine affect this? Because it makes pool water very acidic, that acid will erode the enamel. Over time, this will make the enamel thin enough to let pressure and temperature trigger the nerves in the tooth.
Another side effect of chlorinated water is a brownish discoloration of your enamel. Even if you take good care of your teeth, you can get this problem just by swimming too often. That’s why the discoloration is called “swimmer’s calculus.”
Saliva is very important to your dental health because it washes away some of the food particles stuck in your mouth. The bacteria behind cavities and gum disease feed on those particles, so saliva helps keep the bacteria under control. But chlorine dries out your mouth. With less saliva, your risk of cavities and gum disease goes up.
Saliva also helps strengthen your enamel because it has calcium and similar minerals that soak into your teeth. That dry mouth removes this process. Plus, the acidic pool water slowly but surely erodes the enamel. Combined together, it’s easy to see how chlorine leads to weaker teeth.
What You Can Do To Help
It’s not like you have to tell your kids they can’t swim in pools this summer. But you do need to be smart about it to prevent future dental problems. Here are four simple tips so you can better protect your kids’ smiles.
- Rinse and then brush afterward: Rinsing your mouth out washes away the acids that coated the teeth during swimming. Then brush with a fluoride toothpaste because fluoride can reverse tiny amounts of damage in enamel.
- Drink plenty of water: One of the best ways to avoid dry mouth is to stay hydrated. Make sure your kids are drinking enough water this summer.
- Keep your pool’s pH level at 7.5: This level is the sweet spot. It’s acidic enough to keep the pool safe while not being too much of a danger to your kids’ teeth.
- Make an appointment with our South Bend dentist: Everyone needs regular checkups, but getting a dental exam in the summer can make sure chlorine isn’t causing big problems down the road.
Call us TODAY at 574-208-5668 or make an appointment online for family dentistry with our South Bend dentist. Dr. Hurcomb works great with children, and she has the right mix of experience and training to help your whole family have a healthy smile all summer long.