Swimming is good for your health, but that's not exactly a secret. It's an exercise that conditions your body while burning an impressively high amount of calories. However, there can be an unexpected disadvantage to swimming (in a pool) on a regular basis, and that's how it affects your dental health. But how exactly can swimming damage your teeth?
In the Water
It's not as if the physical act of swimming does anything to your teeth. It's actually the water you're swimming in that can be problematic. When swimming, it's unavoidable that a small amount of pool water will enter your mouth, and it's the chemicals used to keep this water hygienic that can be an issue.
Chlorinated water doesn't agree with your teeth. The residual amounts of chlorine left on your teeth after swimming can begin to discolour your teeth, turning them an unpleasant shade of brown, or even slightly green. This is a condition known as swimmer's calculus.
In addition to this staining, swimming in a pool can also lead to enamel erosion, which is when the protective dental enamel coating your teeth is worn down due to the chemical composition of the water, increasing your chances of tooth decay. This generally occurs when the pH balance of the water renders it too acidic, which is often immediately after chlorination. The more time you spend swimming, the more likely these issues are to affect your teeth.
Scheduling Your Swimming
Swimmer's calculus and enamel erosion doesn't mean that you should avoid spending time in the pool, however, you need to be smart about scheduling your exercise. When you have your own pool, be sure to add chemicals in the evening, when you're done using the pool for the day (which also minimises immediate chemical loss via evaporation). This means you won't be swimming when the chemicals are at their most potent. If you swim at a public pool, ask about their chlorination schedule, and amend your swimming sessions accordingly. You should also rinse your mouth with water after swimming.
Your Dentist Can Help
Those who swim on a regular basis should think about whether they actually see their dentist on a regular basis. If you're not so diligent about your standard checkups, you should be. This allows your dentist to perform a professional cleaning, which removes calculus and discolouration. They will also be able to identify enamel erosion in its early stages, allowing them to take the required action to halt and reverse this erosion.
You shouldn't avoid the pool because you're worried about your teeth, but you should take the necessary precautions to ensure that your exercise doesn't disadvantage your smile.