Summer is water fun time and nothing is more refreshing than splashing in a swimming pool on a hot day. Some people visit their local community pool for regular dips. pool water stain teethChildren are out of school and may be involved in camp programs that include daily swimming lessons and open swim. If you are lucky enough to have your own pool, you may plunge in daily when temperatures are at their highest.

Engaging in pool activities is refreshing, provides good exercise and a source of relaxation. Unfortunately there are some downfalls to having regular exposure to swimming pool water. Besides drying out your skin and turning your hair green, you may not be aware; it can actually promote tooth erosion.

How does alkaline pool water affect tooth enamel?

Researchers at New York University (NYU) and The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) have both reported that prolonged exposure to unbalanced pool water can result in tooth stains and the erosion of tooth enamel.  Also, The American Journal of Epidemiology published the results of a survey of close to 750 competitive swimmers, from 1986 to the present. About 39 percent of them had experienced tooth enamel erosion.

Swimming pools need to be kept at a pH level of about 7.5. If that level increases to more than 7.8, the water is in an alkaline state. Studies show that when children and adults swam for more than six hours each week in an alkaline pool, they were at a higher risk for developing stained teeth. Unsightly stains appear as a result of the high pH water combined with minerals that are present in the mouth, breaking down proteins in the saliva.

How can tooth stains be removed?

Luckily, tooth staining from swimming can be removed by a dental cleaning. If you see this discoloration developing on yours or a child’s teeth, contact your dentist to address the problem right away. It might be necessary for more frequent professional cleanings to occur during the summer months, or whenever pool use is most frequent. It is also necessary to maintain the pool’s pH balance correctly.

At what pH level is swimming pool water considered an acid?

Another problem, which can result when swimming pool water isn’t properly balanced, is that the pH level is too low. A pH level below 7.2 is considered an acid environment. Have you ever felt burning in your eyes and nose just from the strong chemical smell of pool water? This isn’t necessarily the effects of excessive chlorine; this is the result of low pH level. It makes the water very corrosive to your teeth and irritating to your skin.

Adults and kids who swim in acidic water for several hours each week are susceptible to tooth enamel erosion. Cases have been documented showing conclusively that enamel erosion occurred due to exposure to acidic pool water. In one report, the damage developed after just two weeks of swim time. If you swim laps regularly or have a youngster who competes in a swimming pool,

make it a habit of inspecting your teeth, and your kid’s teeth, periodically for visible changes in

the enamel.