Cosmetic Dentistry |2 min read

Chlorine Tooth Stains: Causes and Solutions

child in swimming poolKeeping your teeth white and clean is one of life’s biggest challenges. There are so many things that contribute to tooth discoloration it can be hard to know what is causing the staining on your teeth. If you go in to the dentist with brown stains on your teeth, the dentist will probably ask you a series of questions to gauge the cause: Are you a coffee or tea drinker? Do you smoke? Are you a swimmer?

That last one may have surprised you, but it’s true. Swimming in chemically treated pools is a leading cause of tooth staining. If you or members of your family love swimming, you’ll want to know a little more about this phenomenon.

What causes tooth stains?

Your saliva is a marvelous tool for keeping your teeth stain-free, but your saliva is challenged when you spend a lot of time in swimming pools. The optimum pH level for swimming pools is between 7.2 and 7.6, rendering it slightly basic on the pH scale. The higher basic quality of the water combats your saliva’s natural ability to break down minerals properly. Instead, your saliva reacts with the minerals of the water and proteins in your mouth to form a hard, yellowish brown stain on your teeth. This issue is most common in swimmers who spend a few hours a day in the pool.

How is it treated?

Firstly, you’ll want to visit your dentist. A good dentist can give you an assessment of the damage and prescribe proper treatment. In most cases, the dentist will be able to scrape off the mineral staining, then perform a simple whitening treatment to remove excess residue.

Are there other risks?

Pools that have been improperly maintained offer a greater risk of tooth staining, and they pose the risk of decaying your enamel. This is most common in backyard pools in which the tenants attempt to maintain the pool themselves and wind up with an improper pH balance. Such a mistake will cause irreversible enamel damage and possibly gum disease.

How can all of this be prevented?

Unfortunately the damage chlorine causes on your teeth cannot be prevented unless you don’t come into contact with it at all. You can try a mouth guard, though the results will not be complete. The best way to protect your teeth from staining is to go to your dentist for more frequent cleanings.

You should also be sure that the pool you’re swimming in is properly treated. If you swim in a public pool, check with the maintenance team to ensure the pH levels are correct. If you maintain your own pool at home, consider hiring a professional to manage your pH levels. If you can’t afford that, do your research to hone your skills and make sure you can get the levels to normalcy.