When you think about oral health you probably just think about doing your regular brushing and flossing. There’s another thing you need to be taking into account, though: the pH of saliva in your mouth.
If you have acidic saliva, that can be bad news for your pearly whites. Let’s dive in and see what pH is, how it affects your teeth, and what you can do to keep it at the right levels.
The Right pH for Saliva
The normal range for the pH of saliva is 6.2 – 7.6. That means it hovers right around neutral on the pH scale.
So what does that mean?
Well, first you’ll need to understand a little bit about how the pH scale works.
The scale is used to describe the acidity or alkalinity level of a substance. The pH scale goes from 0 – 14. The lower the number, the more acidic the substance is. The higher the number, the more alkaline the substance is. Seven is a neutral pH.
When it comes to food and drink, things like soft drinks, black coffee, alcohol, fruit juices, and some meats are known for having a high acidity. Consuming things like that will give you acidic saliva, which is not good for your teeth.
Why Acidic Saliva is Bad for Your Teeth
So now you’re wondering why you should worry about acidic saliva. It’s all about your tooth enamel.
When your saliva pH gets too low, the acid will start breaking down your tooth enamel, which is called demineralizing. Even though your tooth enamel is extremely hard, once it breaks down it won’t grow back. Once your enamel has worn away, the next layer, called dentin, is exposed.
If you’re dealing with enamel erosion, you might start to notice tooth sensitivity when you’re drinking something hot or cold beverages. You might also start seeing some yellowish discoloration on your teeth. That’s because, while your enamel is seethrough, the dentin is white. With no enamel to protect the dentin, it starts to become discolored.
The loss of enamel also opens the door for cavities. Without enamel, the bacteria that leads to tooth decay can more easily eat holes in your teeth, and you’ll end up needing to get a filling or other form of tooth repair.
Fixing the pH of Saliva
If you’re worried about your saliva pH levels, there are several things you can do. First, you can test your saliva using pH strips that can be found at drug stores. You can also talk to your dentist about getting a test done.
On a daily basis, it’s mostly about being cognizant of what you’re eating and what steps you’re taking after you eat.
You’re not going to give up eating and drinking everything that can make your saliva acidic, so it’s really about either limiting your intake or balancing it out afterwards. For example, try to stay away from sugary drinks. If you do drink something sugary, don’t just sip on it for a long time. You’ll want to drink it quickly, and don’t swish it around in your mouth. Afterwards, you can drink some water to help generate more saliva and start balancing out the acidity.
Another good thing to do after you’ve had something acidic is chew sugarless gum, especially if it contains xylitol. Chewing gum will encourage saliva production to help balance the pH in your mouth. The xylitol is believed to help prevent bacteria from sticking to your tooth enamel.
Eating something that’s more of an alkaline can help get you balanced a little faster. Eat dairy products like milk, cheese, or yogurt. Calcium will help lower the acidity.
Lastly, do NOT go and brush your teeth immediately after eating something acidic. Your enamel will be weakened, so brushing your teeth can actually cause more damage. You should wait about an hour so you can naturally return to the correct saliva pH level.
Find Your Balance
Keeping your saliva pH between 6.2 and 7.6 as often as possible is crucial to keeping your teeth healthy. When you have acidic saliva, it can eat away at your enamel and lead to tooth sensitivity, discoloration, bad breath, and tooth decay.
To help keep a neutral pH, you can adjust the things you’re eating and drinking along with helping bring the acidity in your mouth back down by rinsing your mouth with water or eating or drinking something that’s high in calcium.
Schedule an appointment today so you can get a thorough examination of your oral health and find out exactly what shape your tooth enamel is in now.