Summer in Minnesota is beautiful. It’s a time for enjoying summer activities like barbecues, vacations, and swimming pools. But when it comes to the last fun option, you have to be careful. The chlorine used to make pools safe to swim in can hurt your teeth and gums.
That’s why you need to call our Rochester, MN dental office today at 507-315-2932 and schedule a dental exam. You need these several times a year just to make sure your smile is healthy. But with all the swimming you and your children will do this summer, a new dental exam is more important than ever. Thankfully, our Rochester dentists have the experience to match their expert training.
Why People Put Chlorine In Pools
If chlorine is such a problem, why is it in pools in the first place? That’s because it makes the water so acidic that it kills harmful bacteria in it.
Standing water is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. If you have a pool and never treated the water, it would eventually become teeming with bacteria. Swimming in these pools would likely get you and your family very sick.
Chlorine helps by changing the pool water’s pH level. That’s a measure of how acidic it is. Acid erodes things, so it ends up attacking bacteria. If you have a pool with a pH level around 11, that means there’s almost no acid present — and bacteria will love it there. Adding chlorine changes the water’s acidity so bacteria will die off and the water is safe to swim in.
Chlorine Can Damage Your Teeth
But by “safe,” it means you won’t get physically ill. Too much acidity can lead to several dental health problems. Here are the four biggest problems caused by chlorinated water.
Chlorine (and most things acidic) can interfere with your mouth producing saliva. This leads to dry mouth — and a higher risk of cavities and gum disease.
Both are caused by bacteria in your mouth. They feed off food particles trapped on your teeth and gums, and in return, they produce an acid that damages both. Saliva helps remove those food particles. So when you have a dry mouth, you’re giving more food to the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease, allowing them to reproduce.
Acid erodes your enamel. Normally, your teeth are coated by saliva. Not only does this help prevent acids from attacking your enamel, saliva has calcium and similar trace minerals that actually repair microscopic damage to your teeth.
When the chlorine in pool water dries out your mouth, you lose those protections because you have less saliva. That means your enamel can get thinner. This lets temperature and pressure reach the nerve endings inside the tooth. Such tooth sensitivity can make eating hot or cold foods painful.
It happens so often, there’s a term for it: swimmer’s calculus. Chlorine used in pools can discolor and stain your teeth with a dark, brownish color that certainly does not look good on your smile. Plus, saliva helps stop dark foods and drinks from leaving behind stains on your enamel. Since your mouth doesn’t have enough saliva, such stains are more likely.
As with tooth sensitivity above, the problem here is how anything acidic will erode your teeth. Even fruit juice and soda (yes, even diet soda) are acidic enough to damage the enamel. Chlorinated water affects your teeth in a similar way. Even if you try to keep your mouth shut, some pool water will reach your teeth and coat them in acid.
What You Can Do
Don’t worry, it’s not like you and your family are going to climb out of the pool with horrible damage to your teeth. But any such damage will need dental treatment eventually. Here are a few ways you can help stop chlorine from hurting your family’s smiles.
- Keep your pool’s pH level at 7.5: Pool water that’s too acidic will hurt teeth, but pool water that’s not acidic enough will let bacteria grow. 7.5 is the sweet spot for your pool’s pH level.
- Rinse and brush after swimming: Rinsing with water will help remove acid lingering on your teeth. Then brushing with fluoride toothpaste can help strengthen the enamel.
- Keep hydrated: If dry mouth is a problem, drink plenty of water. Besides, summer is when you can get dehydrated easily.
- Visit our Rochester, MN dental office: A dental exam from our highly qualified Rochester dentists can spot any problems that chlorine might be causing before they’re too big.