There’s Something in the Water: Swimming Pools and Your Teeth

Cannonball! From workouts to water slides, pools provide endless hours of splashes and smiles.

It’s no secret that most pools contain chlorine, a chemical used to kill germs. You might be surprised to learn chlorine can cause more than itchy eyes and green-tinted hair. Pool water chemicals can create brown teeth deposits, also known as “swimmers’ calculus.

You don’t have to be a math wiz to solve this equation: Over time, pearly whites + chlorine = tooth erosion.

Athlete swimmers and recreational splashers, particularly those who swim more than 6 hours per week, risk teeth stains and enamel loss. In other words, continual exposure to chemically treated water can cause tooth trouble.

How can you avoid the pearly white pool curse? Take these precautions before you (and your teeth) take a dip:


Pool water everywhere and not a drop to drink! Bring a reusable bottle filled with safe-to-swig H2O. It will keep you hydrated and wash away any harmful deposits.


Make an effort to close your mouth while swimming. The less time chlorine spends on your smile, the less chance for tooth erosion.


Talk to your lifeguard or pool manager about their pH procedures. The pH level should be checked at least once a week and read somewhere between 7.2 and 7.8. The lower the pH level, the more harmful it is to your teeth. Antimicrobials found in pool water have a much higher pH than our saliva. This causes protein breakdown, resulting in enamel erosion and teeth stains.


If you spend most of the year poolside, consider doubling-up on dental visits. If you notice brownish stains on your teeth, the Academy of General Dentistry recommends increasing check-ups to 3 or 4 times a year.

Swimmers’ calculus can be easily avoided, so take action now. Keep smiling, swimmers!