Pool time: How to help your kids have fun and keep their teeth safe at a home pool

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August 9th, 2018

The outdoor swimming pool is a hallmark of Minnesota summers, and can be a great way for kids to burn off some energy and beat the heat. If your kids are spending a lot of time at an at-home pool (whether your own or a friend’s) this summer, be sure to protect their teeth with these tips:

Safety First

Just like lifeguards remind us, NO RUNNING is the best policy around the pool. It’s all too easy to lose your balance on a slippery pool deck and take a dive—onto the concrete. Following this safety measure can help keep your smile intact.

Bumping into the side of the pool while swimming or getting out can also injure a tooth. While this is often accidental, it can be avoided: Use the provided pool ladders and keep your arms in front of your head when swimming close to the edge of the pool.

If you do injure a tooth, we have some tips for what to do next.

Do the Math

Did you know that chlorine can be harmful to your oral health? While important in pools to keep water clean and sanitary, chlorine can also stain teeth and lead to a condition called Swimmer’s Calculus – and you don’t need to be a math whiz to figure out why. Simply put, if a pool contains too much chlorine, it can rise to acidic levels. In addition to staining, this can erode tooth enamel and cause tooth sensitivity.

If you have a pool at home, be sure to use pH strips to monitor the water’s acid levels (pH levels), which should be between 7.2 and 7.8.

If you’re at a pool away from home, there are a couple signs you can use to gauge the acidity of the water. Take note of the pool linings, railings and ladders. If there is too much chlorine in the pool, these surfaces will appear eroded from the acidic pH. In this case, consider finding another place to take a dip.

Everyday Tips

These easy tips help you safeguard against chlorine:

  1. Close your mouth when swimming underwater to minimize teeth exposure to the chlorine.
  2. Fill and bring a reusable water bottle to the pool – and don’t drink the pool water.
  3. If your kids are avid pool-goers, consider doubling up on dentist visits. While you might not notice stains or tartar on their teeth, your dentist will be able to detect (and treat) signs of swimmer’s calculus before you do.

Enjoy your pool time this summer!