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How Does Swimming & Diving Affect Teeth

Updated: 11 hours ago

SUMMER IS HERE and if you have plans to lounge by the pool or take a dive into the ocean to escape the heat, keep reading to learn more about the dental risks you may swim into. As your South San Francisco dentists we don't want to throw water on your plans, but here are some dental warnings and tips to keep your smile afloat.

Swimmer’s Calculus: Enamel Erosion from Pool Chlorine

The term “swimmer’s calculus” might sound like something out of an advanced math class, but it actually refers to a dental health condition. After prolonged exposure to the acidic chlorine ions in pool water, a swimmer’s teeth can develop yellow or brown stains.

While chlorine is great for keeping the pool sanitary for all the people who enjoy swimming in it, it can cause the water’s pH levels to become more acidic if it isn’t monitored carefully. Because our teeth are so vulnerable to erosion from acid, even the mild acidity of pool water like this can increase the risk of developing these stains.

You can protect your smile by brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste or using a fluoride mouthwash. Fluoride is a natural mineral that can fight acid erosion. Once in your enamel, fluoride teams up with calcium and phosphate there to create the most powerful defense system your teeth can have.

Tooth Squeeze for Scuba Divers

For those who prefer scuba diving over swimming pools, the dental health risk is barodontalgia or “tooth squeeze.” The same way pressure builds in our ears when we dive, it can also build inside teeth, particularly any with untreated cavities or faulty dental work. If the pressure grows enough, it can even fracture the tooth. We recommend pre-diving dental visits to make sure no teeth are vulnerable.

Diving Masks: One Size Fits…None?

A common diving problem is that the so-called “one size fits all” mouthpieces don’t seem to fit anyone well, forcing divers to clench down on the mouthpiece to keep it in place. This puts a lot of strain on the jaws, potentially contributing to temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). To anyone who dives multiple times a year, we recommend investing in a custom-fitted mouthpiece.

Before you dive into your summer plans, schedule your next check-up and cleaning today. If it's been more than 6 months since your last visit, you're due for a visit. Don't forget to complete the treatment plans that your dentist prepared for you, so you don't have a dental emergency raining on your summer parade. Scheduling is easy! You can schedule an appointment online or give us a call or text at (650) 871-1400.


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