You’ve done it before… picked up a smooth stone on the shore of a lake and tossed it toward the body of water and watched it skip the surface, creating a beautiful ripple effect in its wake.
In the same way, chlorine can create a ripple effect of potential damage on your teeth and gums. That’s what we’re talking about in today’s blog. Summer brings all kinds of fun along with it, and to keep your family’s smiles healthy, it’s important to know how to reduce some of the risks to your oral health that fun can sometimes bring.
It’s also important to keep up with those regular dental cleanings and exams for you and your family. Call Rod Eccles, DDS today to schedule your summer checkup! In the meantime, keep reading to learn more about what chlorine can do to your teeth.
Is Chlorine Really That Important?
Absolutely! Although it might sound a bit contradictory, chlorine that goes into your local public pool is necessary to keep the water safe enough to swim in. Without chlorine, the water would become a breeding ground for bacteria and would make you and your family really sick. It’s necessary in order to balance out the acidity levels in pool water to kill all that harmful bacteria.
Considering all the bodies that splash around in the public pool, coupled with extremely hot and humid temperatures during the summer months, it makes sense that you’d normally find much higher levels of chlorine in your local public pool than you would in your neighbor’s private pool. This poses quite the challenge when it comes to protecting your teeth.
So How Can Chlorine Be Harmful To Your Teeth?
While chlorine keeps the water safe enough to swim in, that’s only because it keeps you from getting sick. But let’s talk about the ripple effect it has on your teeth. It all starts with the acidity in the swimming pool water.
First, chlorinated water can interfere with your ability to produce saliva, which is your body’s natural way of keeping your mouth free and clear of harmful bacteria. Saliva provides a coating of protection on your teeth so the acids can’t attack your enamel. If the saliva isn’t there to protect the enamel, the acids will erode it.
So from a lack of saliva, your tooth enamel can become weakened, leaving you vulnerable to all sorts of potential oral health problems:
Tooth Sensitivity – The acids break down the tooth enamel and allow things to seep in and mess with the nerve endings inside your teeth. So any time you eat and drink things that are too hot or too cold, or any time you apply a bit more pressure while chewing, it can be quite painful.
Stained Teeth – Ordinarily, it’s the saliva that coats your teeth that helps protect them from normal staining from the dark pigments you find in certain foods and drinks. In the same way, chlorine can seep in and discolor your teeth to a dark, almost brownish color.
Tooth Decay, Cavities, And Gum Disease – Again, you need saliva to help wash away food particles, sugars, and acids. But when you’re mouth is dried out from chlorine in pool water, your mouth becomes a breeding ground for harmful bacteria because now they have all that debris to feed off of. The result is a higher risk of decay, cavities, and gum disease.
So Should You Skip The Dip?
Not at all! Swimming is fun and refreshing, and it doesn’t have to harm your teeth as long as you have the right information and can take steps to protect your oral health.
First, make sure that you stay really hydrated to prevent dry mouth. Keeping up with the needed saliva production to protect your tooth enamel will require you to drink plenty of water while you’re out having fun in the sun!
Next, remember to pack your toothbrush and toothpaste so you can brush your teeth after you swim. This will help wash away the acids that chlorinated water will leave behind. Make sure your toothpaste contains fluoride to help strengthen your enamel, as well.
And as always, make sure you’re visiting our Plainfield dental office at least twice a year for regular checkups. A healthy mouth is a team effort, and we’re here to help you and your family maintain healthy smiles in the summer, and all year long!