alarm-ringing ambulance angle2 archive arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up at-sign baby baby2 bag binoculars book-open book2 bookmark2 bubble calendar-check calendar-empty camera2 cart chart-growth check chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up circle-minus circle city clapboard-play clipboard-empty clipboard-text clock clock2 cloud-download cloud-windy cloud clubs cog cross crown cube youtube diamond4 diamonds drop-crossed drop2 earth ellipsis envelope-open envelope exclamation eye-dropper eye facebook file-empty fire flag2 flare foursquare gift glasses google graph hammer-wrench heart-pulse heart home instagram joystick lamp layers lifebuoy link linkedin list lock magic-wand map-marker map medal-empty menu microscope minus moon mustache-glasses paper-plane paperclip papers pen pencil pie-chart pinterest plus-circle plus power printer pushpin question rain reading receipt recycle reminder sad shield-check smartphone smile soccer spades speed-medium spotlights star-empty star-half star store sun-glasses sun tag telephone thumbs-down thumbs-up tree tumblr twitter tiktok wechat user users wheelchair write yelp youtube

Your Teeth Underwater

Anyone who regularly swims might have noticed that your teeth are more sensitive after climbing out of the pool.

That’s not just your imagination. Doing a lot of swimming actually can take a toll on our teeth if we aren’t careful.

Pool Chlorine Can Cause “Swimmer’s Calculus”

To most people, the word “calculus” calls forth scary flashbacks from high school math class, but in this context, it refers to a dental health condition. Prolonged exposure to the acidic chlorine ions in pool water can make a swimmer’s teeth develop yellow or brown stains, which we call swimmer’s calculus. Chlorine is excellent for keeping a public pool sanitary for everyone swimming in it, but if it isn’t monitored carefully, the water’s pH levels can become more acidic.

Our teeth are very vulnerable to erosion from acid, so even mildly acidic pool water can make it more likely that we will develop these kinds of stains. You might be able to minimize this by keeping your mouth closed in the water and drinking plenty of water to rinse any pool water off of your teeth. Regular dental appointments are also important.

The Dental Woes of Scuba Divers

If you prefer scuba diving over swimming at the pool, you will face a different set of dental health risks, including barodontalgia or “tooth squeeze.” If you’ve ever felt pressure building up in your ears when you dive to the bottom of the deep end, you’ve gotten a taste of what can happen inside of individual teeth — particularly those with cavities that haven’t been treated yet or have been treated ineffectively.

The pressure of all that water can build so much that it can actually fracture a tooth. For this reason, we strongly encourage divers to begin their diving season with a visit to the dentist so that they can get ahead of any potential problems.

The All-Size-Fits-None Scuba Mouthpiece

Many scuba divers struggle with the supposedly one-size-fits-all mouthpieces that don’t really fit anyone very well. Most divers don’t go into the water often enough to feel like the cost of a custom-fitted mouthpiece is worth it. As dentists, we would argue that it’s worth it for anyone diving multiple times a year, because a custom-fitted mouthpiece won’t cause the problems the generic one can.

Generally, divers must clench down on the mouthpiece to keep it from falling out while diving, which can put a high level of strain on the jaws. It could even cause TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder).

Do You Still Have Questions About Teeth and Water Activities?

If we haven’t answered all of your questions about how to look after your dental health while being an avid fan of water activities, just ask! A less obvious danger to be aware of as well is the tripping hazard of slippery areas around pools; a fall could easily cause an injury to your mouth. Take the right precautions for your teeth and enjoy all the water you want to this year!

We wish our patients a fantastic summer!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.