Can Pool Water Stain Your Teeth?

It’s Summer! Time to hit the pool… But did you know that swimming in the pool can have some interesting effects on your teeth? From staining to enamel decay, The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) has identified some risks associated with pool recreation that we think you should be aware of… Your pool’s chemistry is super important!

Maintaining proper pool pH is necessary to safeguard healthy, happy teeth. pH is the measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a liquid. Most pools are maintained at a pH of 7.2-7.8. 

Pools that have a pH below 7.2, which is considered acidic by pool water standards, can have damaging effects. And as you’ve learned from our blog posts about citrus, acid is the enemy of healthy enamel and dentin. Low pH can cause tooth enamel erosion in children (or adults) that are swimming for extended periods, like daily camp swim sessions, or competitive swimmers home pool routine. There have been several documented reports of enamel erosion as a result of acidic pool water. If you have a child that is spending a lot of time in the water, it’s a good idea to examine their teeth from time to time, Make sure you don’t notice any drastic changes in the enamel. If you do notice changes, contact your dentist for a consultation, and make sure the pH levels fall in the 7.2 – 7.8 range.

What about high pH?

It’s not just low pH that can have a negative effect on your teeth. High pH, or an overabundance of alkalinity in the pool, can lead to a particular type of staining. Have you ever noticed a yellowish-brown tint on your teeth after an extended swim session? Chances are your pools chemistry isn’t quite right, and leaning towards the high side of the pH scale. 

If the pool’s pH rises above 7.8 then the pool’s water is alkaline.  According to an AGD article in 2007, kids (and adults) that swim for 6 or more hours a week in an alkaline pool were at high risk of developing yellowish-brown staining on their teeth. The higher pH level in the pools causes salivary proteins to break down and combine with minerals in the mouth to form those unsightly stains.

Fortunately, the staining can be removed by a professional dental cleaning so if you see this staining developing on a child’s teeth make sure to give BD4K a call to set up an appointment for a cleaning. Your child may need to have more frequent cleanings (every 3 months during pool season) to keep the staining at bay.

It’s not just your teeth either… The pH level of your pool can have a lot of other health effects too. The bottom line is that a properly balanced pool chemistry will eliminate the risks associated with high and low pH, and the effects that it will have on your teeth. Have a happy summer, and swim safe!