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Does Swimming Hurt Oral Health?

Swimming is a popular sport in the United States. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, swimming is the fifth most popular form of exercise.

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Swimming is a popular sport in the United States. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, swimming is the fifth most popular form of exercise, with what percentage of Americans participating?

woman doing backstroke microgen / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Daily exposure to chlorinated water can cause teeth staining, dental pain, increased calculus formation, and dental erosion. If the pool is not properly maintained, these effects can manifest in as little as how many days of exposure?

pool supplies Bill Oxford / E+
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Teeth stain is a problem for swimmers because pool water contains chemical additives—such as antimicrobials—that give the water a higher pH than saliva.

top view of a woman swimming golero / E+
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Swimmers with predisposing oral pathology— such as acute or chronic periapical infection, caries, deep or failing restorations, or residual dental cysts, and those with sinusitis or recent history of surgery—are at risk of barodontalgia, which is characterized by dental pain.

close up of swimming pool Natalia Sterleva / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Antimicrobials found in pool water have a much lower pH than saliva, which causes the proteins to break down and discolored deposits to form.

woman getting out of the pool FatCamera / E+
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If a swimming pool is kept at the optimal pH of 7.4, tooth structure will not demineralize.

underwater view of swimming pool Allexxandar / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends keeping the chlorine concentrations between which levels?

woman stretching before the pool jacoblund / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Brushing the teeth immediately after swimming can be harmful, as the enamel surface is softened by the acidic chlorine and may be more easily brushed away.

man in pool wearing goggles andresr / E+
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Does Swimming Hurt Oral Health?
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2 Comments
  1. Avatar
    Paige says

    If pool pH is 7.4, how does the chlorine alone cause damage from acidic nature? Isnt that effect neutralized?

    You do the public a disservice by not emphasizing that public pools in the US are highly regulated and you can walk to the life guard and ask to see their maintenance logs of pool pH. I have never, in 20 years of checking every public pool that I or my family used, seen a pH below 7.2.

    If you write further, please emphasize poorly maintained pools. AND that by proper oral hygiene, the stains will not form……..remove your pellicle daily and, voila, no problem with stain.

  2. Avatar
    Cara says

    Thank you, I work in Davis, CA. and we have a great group of master swimmers. This was good information.

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