For many families in Reno and Lake Tahoe, summer months are spent swimming at the pool or lake. If your family is into water sports and activities, take some precautions to protect your dental health.
Check Pool Water to Avoid Tooth-Enamel Damage
Whether you swim in your own backyard pool, or you go to one of Reno's aquatic centers, test the pH levels of the water. Teeth can manage pH levels in pool water between 7.2 and 7.8. Once the pool water falls below 7.0 on the pH scale, teeth are susceptible to damage.
In some pools, the water is shocked with chlorine and other agents. Improper levels of chlorination in a pool can lower the pH to tooth-harming levels.
Low pH in pools leads to enamel erosion and:
- Transparent look to teeth
- Sensitivity to cold and hot foods
- Chips and cracks in teeth
- Dark staining of teeth
Anyone can purchase pool pH test strips from a pool supply shop or hardware store. Keep test strips in your pool or gym bag to test private and public pools yourself. If a hotel, home, or resort pool tests below 7.0 on the pH scale, avoid swimming in the water.
Teach Kids Not to Swallow Water
When engaging in sports including swim races, high diving, and scuba diving, some water will get in the participant's mouth. Contact with pool and lake water is never recommended, but it does happen despite the best intentions.
Lake, river, and creek water may not carry excess levels of chlorine, but it can carry bacteria or be too acidic for teeth. Bacteria in the mouth can cause infections in gums or open sores in the mouth. People with fresh implants and other invasive prosthetics are at risk of bacterial infection from microorganisms in fresh water.
Teach toddlers and small children not to drink water from pools or freshwater swimming areas. Practice swimming and wading activities with your little one in a kiddie pool to see how well your child avoids water in his or her mouth.
To prevent infection and other dental issues from contact with caustic or bacteria-laden water, clean teeth as soon as possible after swimming in fresh or pool water. Use toothpaste with enamel protection, and disinfect the teeth and gums with a germ-fighting mouthwash.
Take Care With Dentures and Partials
You can swim with your dentures in but avoid swallowing water. Not only do you want to avoid infection or damage to your remaining teeth, but you also want to avoid loosening the seal between your dentures and your gums.
Swirling water and suction from swimming can cause dentures to float away from the gums. You may lose your dentures if you're being rambunctious in the water or climbing onto a bobbing boat.
Use extra-strength adhesive if you really want to wear your dentures in the water. Bring a spare tube or applicator of denture adhesive along in case a water activity loosens your bite.
Beware of Tooth Squeeze When Scuba Diving
Dentists call it barodontalgia, but you can call it tooth squeeze. The condition is named after the intense pain and pressure felt in the teeth due to changes in ambient pressure.
When deep-water diving, the pressure around you increases in the water by several atmospheres. If you have underlying dental, jaw, or sinus issues, these problems are likely to turn painful under all that pressure.
Excessive changes in pressure, such as those experienced when deep-sea diving, can actually damage teeth. Fractures and dislodged fillings can result from trapped air inside the tooth that can't escape under deep-ocean pressure.
Have your dentist examine your teeth for cavities, small abscesses, and other problems if you plan on deep-sea diving this summer. Healthy teeth may be less susceptible to tooth squeeze. Your dentist is the best person to help you get teeth in their best shape for summer.
Contact Grant/Moana Dental Offices to schedule your summer dental examination. If you're having tooth or denture issues related to swimming or diving, we help you figure out why and get you on the path to a bright, healthy smile.