Cooling off in the pool on a hot summer day is a favorite pastime of many and for good reason. It’s a great way to exercise and spend time with family and friends. The chlorine on the other hand, is less than great. Although it’s absolutely necessary to maintain a clean and hygienic swimming environment—something has to kill all the germs after all—it can wreck havoc on our hair, skin and even our teeth and gums.
This isn’t to say you should stop visiting the pool! As with most things in life, the more you know, the more prepared you can be. We’ve got some tips and tricks you can implement to minimize the damage chlorine can do to your teeth so you can safely enjoy swimming this summer. Keep reading to find out what they are…
Chlorine vs. Your Teeth
First things first, why is chlorine so bad for your oral health? It all comes down to the high acidity of the water that makes it harder for your mouth to produce saliva. Since saliva creates a protective coating over your teeth, the absence of it can leave your enamel vulnerable to the acids of the chlorine.
Lack of saliva can lead to many issues like:
- Tooth Sensitivity: When the acids begin to eat away at your enamel and crack your teeth’s surfaces, it opens your nerves up to irritation. You may find it painful to eat or drink hot or cold items, as well as to apply pressure when biting and chewing.
- Tooth Decay and Gum Disease: Saliva is very useful in washing away leftover food particles and bacteria as you eat throughout the day. Without it, the bacteria will multiply, leading to decay.
- Tooth Discoloration: Saliva also helps to rinse away any staining foods or drinks, preventing your teeth from taking on their colors. You may notice coffee or tea tends to stain your teeth more if you visit the pool often.
What You Can Do
Chlorine risks shouldn’t deter you from going to the pool! The benefits of swimming far outweigh the downsides, especially if you swim infrequently. Plus there are a number of things you can do to keep your teeth protected.
Firstly, drink lots of water. Staying hydrated will prevent dry mouth by encouraging saliva production.
Second, remember to pack your toothbrush and toothpaste to use when you’re done swimming. This will help to clean off any chlorine residue.
Finally, try to keep your mouth closed when underwater and make sure children know not to swallow pool water.