Swimmers risk stained teeth

Frequent swimmers may be at risk for developing yellowish-brown or dark brown stains on their teeth.

Those who swim more than six hours a week continually expose their teeth to chemically treated water. Pool water contains chemical additives such as anti-microbials, which give the water a higher pH than saliva. As a result, salivary proteins break down quickly and form organic deposits on swimmers' teeth.

The hard, brown deposits, known as "swimmers' calculus," appear most frequently on the front teeth. Incidence of brown tartar is as high as 58 percent in children who swim regularly in elementary through high school.

Brushing more often and more carefully hasn't been proven to help. In fact, overuse of tartar control toothpaste can cause irritation and inflammation of the gums. However, swimmers' calculus can normally be removed by a professional dental cleaning. Those who swim competitively should be sure to visit their dentist and hygienist regularly.

Courtesy of the Academy of General Dentistry (www.agd.org)