Is Competitive Swimming Damaging Your Child's Teeth?

Posted on: 28 November 2018

If your child swims competitively, then you won't have many worries about their overall health and fitness. After all, they're getting more than enough exercise. You may think that the only problems they might have will be injury-related.

However, some competitive swimmers develop problems with their teeth. This is usually down to spending a lot of time in chlorinated and chemically maintained pools.

How can you tell if swimming is damaging your child's teeth, and what can you do about it?

Signs of Water Damage on Teeth

Pool water can take a long time—and a lot of exposure—to damage teeth. This damage typically happens gradually. Common signs of problems include the following:

  • Teeth turning slightly yellow
  • Brown tartar stains (sometimes called swimmer's calculus) developing on the front teeth
  • Teeth losing some enamel and becoming extra sensitive

If you notice any or all of these issues on your child's teeth, and they train in the pool regularly, then the water may be affecting their teeth.

This is often due to pH chemical levels or an excess of chlorine the pool. For example, if a pool has a pH level under 7, then the water becomes acidic.

If your child is exposed to acidic water every time they train, then the enamel on their teeth may wear away and their teeth may get more sensitive.

How to Fix Water Damage on Teeth

If your child has any signs of tooth damage, you should take them to see your family dentist. Explain that your child swims competitively and may be suffering from pool-related problems.

Depending on the type of damage, your dentist may be able to clear things up. For example, brown tartar stains can be cleaned off with a professional dental clean.

Unfortunately, your dentist may not be able to fix damage like yellowing or enamel erosion as easily. These problems are usually irreversible. Your dentist can, however, help your child manage any symptoms they have and help them prevent things from getting worse.

For example, your dentist may tell your child to start using a toothpaste for sensitive teeth. They may also suggest adding bonding to the front of some of your child's teeth to compensate for enamel loss.

From a preventative point of view, your dentist may also recommend that you ask your child's coach to check the pH level of the pool water. If it is under 7, the pool's maintenance team should be able to change things to make the water less dangerous to your child's teeth.