Many of us look forward to swimming outside in the summer months with friends and family, though we might not love the feeling chlorine can leave on our skin and hair. That chlorine, however, is necessary to keep the water swimming-safe. With all the people coming in and out of the pool and the hot summer weather, chlorine helps keep germs at bay and prevents swimmers from getting sick.
But just as it can wreak havoc on your skin and hair, your teeth and gums can potentially be affected as well. This is not to say you should avoid the pool! There are ways to work around the negative side effects caused by chlorine exposure. Read on to find out what those side effects are and how to keep your smile damage-free all summer long.
Chlorine Dental Damage
Because pool water is highly acidic, it disrupts your mouth’s ability to produce saliva, making it more difficult. As a result, the coating of saliva that typically protects your teeth becomes weaker or disappears. This can leave your enamel vulnerable to the acids in chlorine, causing a number of problems.
Some issues a lack of saliva can create include:
- Tooth Sensitivity: The acids can break down and crack your enamel, leaving the nerves of your teeth open to water and other liquids. Eating or drinking hot or cold items can become painful, as can applying too much pressure when biting and chewing.
- Tooth Decay and Gum Disease: When your mouth is very dry, is has less saliva to help wash away food particles and bacteria. The bacteria can then multiply, causing cavities and irritation.
- Stained Teeth: Saliva also helps to wash away stain-causing foods and drinks. Without it, the staining pigments are left on the teeth for longer which can lead to discoloration.
Preventing Damage at the Pool
With all these negative side effects, you may be thinking it’s time to find a new summer hobby that doesn’t involve chlorine. Luckily, there’s no reason to skip trips to the pool this summer! With the right precautions, swimming can continue to be a great way to exercise and cool off in the warmer months.
Just keep in mind these tips and tricks for keeping your teeth protected:
- Always stay hydrated. Bringing water with you and drinking often will prevent your mouth from getting too dry, allowing your saliva to do its job.
- Bring a toothbrush and toothpaste and brush when you’re done swimming that day.
- If possible, keep your mouth closed while swimming underwater. Also, make sure children know not to swallow pool water.