Swimming can be a great hobby on a hot summer day, or a passion for professional athletes to enjoy on a daily basis. But too much swimming can end up causing problems for your teeth due to the chlorine in the water. Let’s take a closer look at how you can reduce these potential problems and protect your teeth from chlorine damage.

How Does Chlorine Damage Teeth?

Chlorine increases the pH levels of a pool, which is great for slowing the spread and growth of harmful bacteria. However, prolonged chlorine exposure has a few surprising side effects.

As you swim in the pool, chances are good you will occasionally get water in your mouth. This water can, over time, start to stain your teeth and put your mouth’s natural pH levels into an improper balance.

As time goes on and more swimming is done, the enamel on your teeth can start to weaken, causing sensitivity and decay. If not treated before or at this time, severe decay can be the result starting with the exterior enamel.

Protecting Your Teeth

The easiest way to protect your teeth from chlorine is to prevent water from getting into your mouth in the first place. While this sounds easy, you will soon find it can be impossible to prevent. However, any reduction in the amount of pool water that gets onto your teeth is a positive step in the right direction.

Another way to help your teeth is by brushing after you swim. It’s suggested that you take a shower after leaving a pool to get the excess chlorine off your skin, so add tooth brushing to this routine habit. A gentle brushing and even a floss can help remove chlorine from the surface of your teeth and gums, preventing damage over time and allowing your saliva to do its job.

But Isn’t There Chlorine in Tap Water?

In some cities, chlorine is added to tap water to reduce the amount of bacteria or stagnant flavor the water may pick up when traveling through pipes. However, this amount of chlorine is in much smaller concentrations than what goes into a pool. In fact, it’s nowhere near enough to cause enamel damage or tooth decay.

The level of chlorine in pools can be very hard to determine unless you are the one adding the chlorine. Instead, you can check the pH levels of the pool to determine whether or not the pool has a high or low concentration.

Small paper test strips can be found in plumbing stores and are very affordable. Simply dip the test strip into the pool water and read the pH level. An extremely high pH level can damage teeth and you should try to keep the water off of your teeth as much as possible.

If you’re still unsure about how pool water affects your teeth, contact your dentist and discuss your swimming habits. If you swim on rare occasions, nothing may need to be changed. But if you swim daily, your dentist can help create a personalized plan for your tooth care.