Smile Safety Tips for Summer Swimmers

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Following a few simple pool rules is all it takes to keep your kids’ smiling all summer!

As a former lifeguard with more than 12 years of teaching swim lessons and managing community pools under my belt, er, towel, I’ve seen my share of pool accidents. What many kids—and their parents—don’t realize is that lots of dental emergencies can happen near the swimming pool.

Consider these daily scenarios and their risk for injury:

  • Kids swimming underwater may misjudge distance when resurfacing and hit the side of ledge of the pool with their mouth
  • Running on wet, slippery cement or pool decking can result in a headfirst tumble
  • Kids swimming too close to each other may get a foot to the face
  • Excited kids eager to enter the water as quickly as possible may forget to look before they leap, landing on a fellow swimmer

In all of these situations, the likelihood of a chipped or loosened tooth is high. Luckily, following a few simple pool rules can prevent many pool-related dental injuries:

  1. As you watch your little one scream with glee while doing a flip into the swimming pool, don’t forget to make sure his or her landing spot is deep enough! Many traumatic dental injuries are the result of an impact to the face from the side or floor of swimming pools.
  2. If your child is a young adrenaline junkie, make sure he or she jumps into the pool from safe areas, like diving boards or platforms, and that the area is clear of other swimmers.
  3. Encourage walking instead of running when around the pool.

Of course, even if your child follows all of the pool rules, accidents may happen. That’s why it’s good to know what to do if a tooth is chipped or knocked out. (Hint: A glass of milk could come in handy!)

In addition, excessive exposure of the tooth enamel to the chlorine in many pools may cause brownish discolorations. If your child is a competitive swimmer and in the water more than 6 hours a week, talk to your dentist about the best ways to avoid swimming calculus.

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