Can pool water affect the health of your teeth and mouth?

The pool is one of the most appropriate places to find shelter from the sweltering summer heat. Beyond the advantages and pleasurable moments that this space provides, it should also be remembered that it exposes you to some risks.

The possible problems associated with this space are very varied. The most common are irritations and infections – especially in the skin, eyes, or ears – but we must also consider the risks of accidents or hydrocution in children, and even those derived from falling into the temptation to have sex in the water.

Another possible negative consequence of spending a lot of time in the pool is related to oral health. In this case, as in many of the irritations that affect above all the skin and eyes, the main responsible is chlorine.

Chlorine is a gas widely used in the treatment of pool water, as it helps prevent the proliferation of bacteria and other microorganisms harmful to humans. If it is not resorted to, water can become a source of infections.

However, if too much chlorine is used, or if a person spends many hours swimming in the pool, the risk of irritations and also of the teeth and gums being affected – something that is talked about considerably less.

This is because chlorine modifies the acidity levels of pool water. Because of this, in general, the pH of water is higher than that of saliva. Such decompensation causes salivary proteins to break down more quickly and tooth enamel to erode and wear.

In addition, high summer temperatures, sweat, and a possible insufficient intake of water can generate some degree of dehydration, which also has to conspire against the production of saliva. The result of all this is that teeth and gums are less protected from microorganisms.

Several studies have explained that, due to chlorine, spending more than six hours a week in the pool for an extended period of time exposes the risk of suffering the so-called “swimmer’s tartar”, brown spots that appear mainly on the front teeth. This problem afflicts many professional swimmers.

In people who do not swim professionally – and who therefore tend to spend less time in the water – the problem does not become as serious, but chlorine exerts its effect on the oral cavity anyway.

Especially if you take into account that during the summer and holidays many people tend to relax the care of their oral hygiene and modify their diet including more fast or cooked meals away from home. Therefore, it is worth remembering the importance of maintaining healthy habits, also at this time of year.

Pool water can contribute to the formation of organic deposits in the teeth and gums, which leads to a weakening of the enamel. This wear and tear causes tooth sensitivity, the condition that leads to experiencing stabbing pain located in certain parts when ingesting a very cold food or drink.

And, in a longer period, such organic deposits and the weakening of the enamel can result in the emergence of other problems, such as inflammation of the gums, halitosis, gingivitis, periodontitis, or caries.

Among the measures to avoid the possible damage of pool water on oral health, one of the most important is – as has been pointed out – maintaining a balanced and healthy diet.

The Mediterranean diet is always a recommended option when talking about this kind of care. “Dairy products, vegetables, fish and meats, which provide the necessary nutrients and vitamins for the body”, specifies for his part the periodontist Jorge Ferrús, co-founder of the dental clinic Ferrús & Bratos in Madrid.

The expert also points out the importance of drinking plenty of water to maintain good hydration and contribute to the correct production of saliva. In particular, after swimming or doing another physical activity and, in general, without waiting to experience thirst to do so.

On the other hand, in the case of private pools, care should be taken to ensure that the water has the most appropriate level of acidity. According to the pool maintenance company Awa, the most suitable is that the water has a pH of between 7.4 and 7.6, although a somewhat wider range is also acceptable: between 7.2 and 7.8.

The pH of human saliva, meanwhile, ranges between 5.6 and 7.9 according to the College of Hygienists of Madrid. The wider the difference between the pH of water and saliva, the greater its negative effects can be. However, as has already been pointed out, the effects are not very significant if the time in the water is not very long.

Also, the care of oral hygiene acquires great importance in these cases. Specialists recommend the use of toothpaste with high fluoride content, in addition to the use of dental floss and mouthwashes, both to strengthen enamel and to reduce bacterial plaque.

Because of all this, for people very fond of swimming pools and swimming, visits to the dentist become essential. Early detection of tartar accumulations and small carious lesions can allow early and effective treatment, to prevent major problems.

For the rest, great attention should be paid to the oral care of children who often also spend long hours in the pool water. In your case, you should not only put emphasis on brushing and other habits of your oral hygiene but also highlight the importance of not getting chlorinated water into your mouth, let alone swallowing it, things you do frequently.

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