During the summer heat, one of the best ways to cool off is to take a dip in your favorite swimming pool. While swimming is super effective at giving you a break from the sweltering sun, it can also negatively affect your smile. At my dental office in Garden City, we’d like to warn our patients of the oral health risks associated with too much time in the pool.
The link between pool water and oral health has been studied since the mid-1980s, and isn’t a new concept to dentists. But many people aren’t totally aware of all the risks involved with excessive swimming. Sure, your hair can turn green, you can smell like chlorine all summer, and you may suffer from dry skin. But your teeth are also in danger of some pretty serious stuff.
Pool owners everywhere typically use chemicals to balance the pH level of the water, and keep it safe for their families. The ideal pH in pool water should be between 7.2 and 7.8. Often, however, the pH drops below this safe zone, and when that happens, the water is too acidic and is actually considered corrosive. A low pH level can cause skin irritation, burning of the eyes, tooth discoloration, and enamel erosion.
The Importance of Enamel
Tooth enamel protects teeth against harmful plaque and bacteria, and without it, teeth are at increased risk for decay. Besides pool water, there are many summer favorites that can contribute to enamel erosion like lemonade and sangria. Avoiding high levels of acid is key to keeping your summer smile healthy.
What to Look For
If you only visit the pool once in awhile, you decrease your chances of having a pool water related problem. But if you’re a competitive swimmer, spend all day, everyday in the pool, or swim everyday for exercise, keep an eye out for the common signs of a problem. You may start to experience sensitivity or even have unexplainable brown tartar spots on your teeth. This tooth discoloration is commonly known as swimmer’s calculus. If you notice any of these changes, visit your Garden City dentist as soon as you can.
How to Protect Your Grin
You don’t need to give up swimming this summer out of fear. Sometimes all it takes is a bit of precaution. Make sure to check a pool’s pH level often, keep pool water out of your mouth as much as possible, and maintain regular visits to my Garden City dental office. The more often you come to see us, the faster we can detect a problem, and the quicker we can fix it. That means less time at the dentist and more time spent relaxing poolside.
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