Sports injuries are often the more common reason people visit the dentist, and for children, these injuries occur quite frequently. For families concerned about their child’s oral health, one such sport that comes as a hidden threat to teeth is swimming. As odd as it may sound, swimming may cause more dental erosion and hypersensitivity in children who swim more frequently than those who do not. So, why does swimming affect teeth so much? Some studies have looked into this claim and found that the connection between swimming and oral health isn’t as absurd as it may seem.
What Studies Say About Swimming and Oral Health
For children who swim competitively and non-competitively, swimming often exposes them to chlorinated water, which can deposit residue on teeth and even turn teeth yellow or brown. This form of dental erosion often affects children who spend over 6 hours a week in swimming pools, and these tooth stains can indicate signs of dentin sensitivity and tooth erosion later on. Articles from the Journal of Applied Oral Science believe that the connection between oral diseases and competitive swimming is prevalent.
According to the study, young competitive swimmers that swim five times a week often suffered from more dental trauma and lacked enough fluoride intake to maintain proper dental health. Researchers compared the saliva and teeth of both competitive and non-competitive swimmers. They found that dental stains incidence was higher in competitive swimmers than in those non-competitive because of the longer exposure to chlorine. However, the study also concluded that competitive swimmers had more saliva bacteria to protect the teeth from dental caries than non-competitive swimmers. These findings in the microbiology of children’s saliva and exposure to water pH at least present a caution for parents concerned for their child’s oral health.
How To Protect Your Child’s Teeth
Factors such as age, eating habits, current oral habits often help determine the risk factor for children, and dental cavities. For children who swim, these risks can increase as high chlorine levels can cause dental erosion and increase their exposure to dental trauma. To best protect your child’s teeth, follow these tips:
- Encourage Using Mouthguards: Mouthguards can help your child swim more competitively without the risk of harming their teeth, as they’ll offer excellent protection during water sports such as water polo and water volleyball.
- Fluoride Treatment: Make sure to give your child plenty of fluoride by drinking fluoridated tap water, brushing with fluoride toothpaste, and having them get fluoride treatments from their dentist.
- Change Dietary Habits: Encouraging your child to eat more proteins and fiber and avoid eating sugary foods can help strengthen their teeth over time.
- Schedule Your Dental Visit: Making sure to visit your family, or a pediatric dentist can provide them with the regular cleanings they need for healthy teeth.
If you begin to notice staining on your child’s teeth, let your dentist know so they can provide frequent cleanings and other treatments to keep your child’s oral health in great shape.