How Swimming Can Affect Your Oral Health

How Swimming Can Affect Your Oral Health

As Memorial Weekend approaches and the weather gets warmer, you can feel summer in the air. With the arrival of summer comes the arrival of summertime time fun in the sun. One of the most common summertime activities is swimming, since it is a great form of exercise that also cools you down. As great as swimming is, there are also some things that you should know in regards to how it can affect your oral health.

testing chlorine levels in swimming pool

For starters, it is important to know that chlorine can be detrimental to you and your family’s oral health. While chlorine is added to pools in order to kill bacteria and prevent waterborne diseases, it can harm your teeth in large amounts. This is because excess chlorine can accumulate on the surface of your teeth causing something known as swimmer’s calculus. Swimmer’s calculus makes your teeth appear yellow and can eventually lead to enamel erosion. When the enamel erodes, this can also cause tooth sensitivity as well as an increased risk of tooth decay. 

Therefore, one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family’s oral health is to carefully manage the amount of chlorine being used in your pool. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, your pool’s pH level should fall between 7.2-7.8. Free chlorine concentration should be at least one part per million in swimming pools, and three parts per million in hot tubs or Jacuzzis. Using more than the recommended amount of chlorine can have a detrimental effect on your oral health and can also increase the risk of other health problems. If you are unsure about how to properly manage chlorine levels in swimming pools, then it is recommended to hire a professional. 


In addition to chlorine, here are a few other potential threats to your oral health while swimming, as well as how to mitigate them:


Oral Injuries 

Another common threat to you and your family’s oral health is an increased risk of oral injuries. Generally speaking, oral injuries are more likely to occur in people who play competitive water-based sports such as water polo or water volleyball. While participating in water sports or competitive swimming, it is thereby recommended to wear a protective mouthguard. However, accidents around the poolside can happen at any moment and also can result in oral injuries. For this reason it is recommended to set and enforce poolside safety rules to minimize the risk of accidental injuries.

Lost Dental Appliances 

teenager scuba diving

Spending time around or in the pool is also a frequent cause of lost or damaged dental appliances. This is because swimming can knock the appliances out, and the water can make them extremely difficult to locate before being stepped on. Another reason why Dental appliances become lost or damaged is that they are removed prior to swimming, however they are left in an unsafe location. To minimize the risk of losing or damaging removable dental appliances, it is recommended to always remove them before swimming and store them in their protective plastic cases away from the poolside.



Barodontalgia is not a threat when swimming in swimming pools, however it can be a threat when scuba diving. This is because barodontalgia is caused by changes in ambient pressure, such as the changes that occur while diving. This condition occurs when air trapped inside the tooth expands or contracts in relation to the changes in ambient pressure. Air can become trapped inside the tooth when there is untreated decay, a leaky dental restoration, or an unknown tooth fracture. For this reason, it is important to maintain regular dental care and to have your teeth examined prior to going scuba diving. In some cases when the air is unable to expand or contract, this can result in dental trauma from increased pressure inside the tooth. Having a dental exam before you dive can help prevent or minimize the risk of incurring a dental trauma while diving.

Dr. Deborah TabbPatients at Bethesda Family Dentistry benefit from the knowledge and experience that only comes from a diverse team. From general dentistry to endodontic, periodontics, and cosmetic dental services, this Bethesda, MD clinic is ready to be the only source you need for all your oral health needs.