Is your swimming pool safe for your teeth?


NYU College of Dentistry Researchers Warn about the Dangers of Improperly Maintained Pools

Is your swimming pool safe for your teeth?
Is your swimming pool safe for your teeth? NYU College of Dentistry Researchers Warn about the Dangers of Improperly Maintained Pools PHOTO CREDIT: istockphoto.com

NYU College of Dentistry Researchers Warn about the Dangers of Improperly Maintained Pools

New York University College of Dentistry’s Dr. Leila Jahangiri warns about the dangers of severe and rapid erosion of dental enamel from improperly maintained backyard swimming pools.

This summer season, tens of thousands of folks will be enjoying a respite in their backyard pools.  These pools could be putting their family’s dental health at risk for permanent damage to their teeth.

“Improperly maintained pool chlorination in swimming pools can cause rapid and excessive erosion of dental enamel,” warned Jahangiri, a clinical associate professor and the Chair of NYUCD’s Department of Prosthodontics.

“It is a difficult balance to maintain home pools properly,” Jahangiri contends.  “Proper pool chlorine and pH levels need to be monitored and maintained on a weekly basis”

“Maintenance by a professional pool service may cost thousands of dollars a season, so many homeowners try and maintain their pools themselves,” Jahangiri said.  “Improper pH levels can result in irreversible damage to one’s teeth,” she added.

Jahangiri has observed first-hand the effects of improper pH levels.  She and her NYUCD colleagues Steven Pigliacelli and Dr. Ross Kerr, authored a paper this spring, “Severe and Rapid Erosion of Dental Enamel from Swimming: A Clinical Report[l1] .” (not yet published)

The paper was based upon a 52 year old male patient whose main complaints included “extremely sensitive teeth,” dark staining, and rapid enamel loss over a very short five-month period beginning in May of 2010.

Jahangiri and her team concluded that the enamel loss was a direct result of the patient’s 90 minute swimming exercise routine he started earlier that summer.  Since he had never hired professional service to maintain his pool, given the timing coincidence and the lack of other possible causes, improper pool chlorination was ruled to be responsible for the patient’s dental erosion.

 “If the chemical levels are not properly maintained, pool water contact with teeth can cause serious enamel erosion,” Jahangiri said. Case studies show that the effect occurs when the pH of the water ranges between 2.7 and 7.

While the Center for Disease Control and various dental journals have already encountered cases of dental enamel erosion due to swimming pool chlorination, Jahangiri’s team believes that common awareness of the subject is insufficient.

“This case really worried me,” Jahangiri said.  “Given all the owner-maintained backyard swimming pools there are, the possibilities for people to harm their own teeth are staggering,” she said. 

About New York University College of Dentistry Founded in 1865, New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD) is the third oldest and the largest dental school in the US, educating more than 8 percent of all dentists. NYUCD has a significant global reach and provides a level of national and international diversity among its students that is unmatched by any other dental school.

Press Contact

Christopher James
Christopher James
(212) 998-6876