Is Your Swimming Pool Damaging Your Teeth?

If you swim regularly, either in your own or a public pool, and notice that your teeth are starting to show signs of damage, then the water's chlorine levels may be at fault. For example, you may notice that your teeth are becoming more sensitive to start with; they may then go on to show spots of discolouration and even decay. How can you tell if your swimming water is at fault?

Chlorine and pH Levels

Chlorine is used in swimming pools to help manage bacteria in the water. While adding chlorine to pools may protect your health generally, too much chlorine may lead to dental problems such as enamel erosion. The chlorine added to pools affects the overall acidity, or pH, of the water. If pool water has too high a pH, the water may be acidic enough to damage the surface of your teeth when it goes into your mouth as you swim.

What Is a Safe pH Level for Pools?

The Australian Standard pH level for pool water is between 7-7.8. These levels are set to create an optimum hygienic balance in the water generally; however, these levels also apply to your teeth. From a dental perspective, you may experience problems if the water you swim in has a lower pH than 7. Water that is below this level is more acidic and may pose a risk to your teeth.

How to Avoid Chlorine Damage

If you swim at a public pool, it should adhere to Australian standards. If you suspect that the pH levels in the pool are lower than they should be, talk to the pool staff. They should be able to tell you what the current pH level is and should be able to take steps to address any problems with the water.

If you manage your own pool's water, you should run checks on your pH levels once every week or so. If your levels are too low, you may need to tweak the amount of chlorine you're using. If you use a pool maintenance company, they should be working towards optimum pH levels anyway; however, you should raise concerns if you feel the balance levels are wrong.

If you can, it may help to try to avoid getting pool water in your mouth as much as you can. This can be tricky, however, especially if you swim a lot. If you're worried that you may be suffering from chlorine damage already or may be at risk, it's worth making an appointment to see your dentist. Your dentist may be able to suggest ways to minimise problems, such as wearing a mouth guard or having fluoride treatments to prevent current damage from getting worse.