As a biological dentist, I have quite a number of health conscious patients, several of whom are avid swimmers. Swimming is a very healthy sport, but it can have its drawbacks.
Handstand in the swimming pool
Aside from the systemic absorption of chlorine through the skin into the body creating imbalances in iodine levels (see Iodine vs. Fluoride:One Secret to Better Health blog for further information), chlorine can have an effect clinically directly on the teeth.
According to this recent article from the Academy of General Dentistry, “Athlete swimmers, who often swim laps more than six hours a week, expose their teeth to large amounts of chemically treated water. Pool water contains chemical additives like antimicrobials, which give the water a higher pH than saliva, causing salivary proteins to break down quickly and form organic deposits on swimmer’s teeth. The result is swimmer’s calculus, hard, brown tartar deposits that appear predominantly on the front teeth.”
So, if you notice that you are getting stained teeth due to swimming, you may want to ask your dentist about coming in for more frequent dental cleanings.
The other issue with swimming in chlorinated pools, concerns the pH of the water. This case report tells the story of a competitive swimmer who swam in a gas-chlorinated swimming pool and experienced notable dental erosion within 27 days. It says, “Several reports indicate an increased prevalence of dental erosion among intensive swimmers due to low pH gas-chlorinated pool water.” Several cases are presented but one extreme case report is presented which describes a competitive swimmer who experienced very rapid excessive dental erosion within 27 days, due to gas-chlorinated pool water. Gas chlorination results in the formation of hydrochloric acid in the water. Inadequate buffering of this hydrochloric acid can decrease the pH level significantly, increasing the risk of erosion on contact with the dentition.
If you notice that you are losing some enamel on your teeth due to swimming, you may want to check with the swimming pool maintenance company to make sure that the swimming pool’s water pH is within the normal range. Also, it may be a good idea to do frequent oil pulling (see Oil Pulling blog) before and after swimming in a chlorinated pool to minimize the dental effects.