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small boy swimming

It’s officially summer, and that means more time spent in swimming pools, trying to keep cool and relaxing those heat waves away. More time in the pool can have negative consequences for your teeth, however.

When you swim you will inadvertently bring treated water into your mouth. All pools have been treated with chemicals and antimicrobial agents to keep germs from growing and harming us. The problem arises when those chemicals, including chlorine, combine with the proteins and trace minerals that naturally occur in your saliva. Over time, the pH of your mouth will increase outside of its normal range, causing the saliva to be chemically altered, and a yellowish to brown film may be deposited on the teeth, giving a very unsightly appearance.

This is most noticeable with competitive swimmers, who may spend more than six hours per week in the water. Brown stains and even spots are common for swimmers of all ages who maintain an intensive training schedule. But we’ve even seen the brown stains form on children during recreational swimming as well, especially in the summer.

If you suspect that you or your children’s teeth may be getting stained by this condition, known as swimmer’s calculus, it is easily reversed with a normal cleaning and polishing visit with one of our hygienists. We can also make sure that the spots are temporary, and not a sign of something more serious. And if you prefer, you may even decide that a little more frequent maintenance is necessary to keep your teeth on this side of white.

One more thing, if you maintain your own pool and its chemicals, be sure to monitor the pH closely. Letting the water become too acidic for a long period of time can lead to tooth erosion and softening, and then you may have much deeper problems than just a little surface staining.


Trish moved to The Colony in 1992 after finishing her bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene at Texas Woman’s University, and has been helping Dr. Rossen take care of his patients’ smiles since 1999.

The small-town feel here is the best, according to Trish, so be sure to say “hi” when you see her at the sports fields, schools, and at the grocery store. She and her husband are blessed to have two loving kids, a couple of schnauzers, and a thriving dental software company. Also, visit her at, a humor and dental trends website.