Literally, pH stands for the potential of Hydrogen present in any substance. In simple terms, it measures the hydrogen-ion concentration of a substance. Logically speaking, the pH scale measures and classifies a substance’s acidity or baseness in a solution.
Do you know that a healthy mouth usually hovers around a pH scale of about 7.1 approx. This figure is slightly above the neutral pH of 7. However, when you introduce acids through your diet – they constantly lower this number. As a result, it endangers your teeth and dental health.
Keep reading to know more about how the pH scale can affect your dental health.
Does the pH Level of Your Mouth Matter?
Did you know that the pH level of your mouth affects the health of your teeth and gums? You might have heard about the pH level of your body affecting your health. But did you know that the pH levels of your mouth affect your health as well?
Studies show that lower or more acidic pH levels are generally associated with a greater risk for severe health conditions. Examples are type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Similarly, higher pH levels, or more alkaline, are connected to improvements in cognition and memory, reduced pain, and lower risk of hypertension and stroke.
So how is pH connected to dental health? The pH level in your mouth directly affects the health of your teeth and gums. Therefore, the best way to maintain a healthy pH level in your mouth is through the foods you eat.
By regulating the pH in your mouth, you can help reduce the harmful bacteria. As a result, it reduces your risk of tooth cavities, gum disease, and tooth decay. As you might be aware, bacteria feed on sugars commonly found in table sugar or sucrose. Foods such as pasta, candies, sodas, bread, and even natural fruits give bacteria in the mouth more to feed off. As a result, they produce lactic acids, which cause tooth decay.
Tooth Decay and pH Scale
One common way tooth decay can occur is when the pH level in your mouth begins to fall below 5.5. The neutral pH level is always 7.0, but this will drop when acidic foods and drinks are consumed. When your mouth is exposed to long periods of low pH, it allows cavities causing bacteria to grow and develop.
You very well know that sugar is terrible for your teeth. Exposure to sugars can cause the pH of the dental plaque to below a healthy level. However, if you can keep your plaque on teeth at a level of 7.0 or greater, you will not be at risk for cavity-causing bacteria, even when exposed to sugars.
Some foods, such as sugary snacks and beverages, increase the mouth’s acidity, and the pH can change dramatically with the types of foods you consume. Highly acidic foods, such as lemons, often lower the pH, while other foods, like melons, will increase the pH.
Saliva (secreted from salivary glands) helps to neutralize the acids to a large extent. Acidic foods can also increase the acidity of saliva. If the pH does not cancel quickly, it might allow the harmful bacteria to deteriorate the condition of your teeth and gums. As a result, it leads to cavities or the need for a root canal treatment.
Acids in Your Mouth – pH Scale
The word acid has numerous negative meanings, typically conjuring up images of a smoking, dangerous liquid effortlessly eating through some solid substance. These acids in your mouth are pretty different from those found in laboratories, like hydrochloric acid.
But these acids can still erode whatever they come in contact with. It could be the outer layer of your teeth. You commonly consume some foods and beverages that are naturally acidic, like oranges, apples, and other citrus fruits.
Other food items contain sugars and carbs that the bacteria or oral microbe in your mouth consume and convert into lactic acid. The presence of this lactic acid naturally lowers the pH scale of your mouth. Meaning they indicate higher acidity.
When the pH scale of your mouth drops below a level of 5.5, your tooth enamel begins to dissolve under the acid attack. The tooth decay process progresses unchecked. As a result, the acid damage will leave your enamel too weak to protect your teeth from harmful bacteria. These bacteria can slip past the enamel and infect the inner tissues of your teeth.
Keep Your Dental pH Scale Under Control
Cutting acidic foods out of your diet might be possible, though it might be challenging. But it might also deprive you of essential minerals and nutrients. Unfortunately, ceasing to feed the bacteria in your mouth means not feeding yourself, either.
Therefore, the simple option is to brush and floss your teeth regularly. Probably as they are among your best defenses against the invasion of organic acid. Bacteria are more harmful as they produce more acid in larger numbers.
If left alone and untreated, the bacteria create plaque, which hardens into tartar. This plaque and tartar increase your chances of developing a tooth cavity. If you want to eat something sugary or acidic, do so as part of a large meal. The reason is that the other components of your feast can help balance out the acidic invasion on your tooth enamel. Finally, rinse your mouth with water when you are done eating.
How You Can Increase Your pH Level
If you want to keep a healthy pH level in your mouth, the first step should be to increase alkalinity. Increasing the pH scale of your oral cavity has several advantages. It can be done simply by maintaining an alkaline-friendly diet.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
1 Eat More Vegetables
Step one is simple. Eating fruits and vegetables is healthy for your body and your general dental health as well. Vegetables contain essential minerals and vitamins that help increase alkalinity. Moreover, fresh veggies can help fight off bacteria and infections.
Experts say that the more vibrant the color of the fruits and vegetables you eat, the more beneficial it is. Not only for your dental health but for your overall health. Some good choices could be bell peppers, kale leaves, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, and green beans.
2 Cut Back on Bread to Maintain pH Scale
Unfortunately, most grains and bread fall under the more acidic range of foods. Limiting bread in your meals might be the most challenging part of any diet. But you need to understand that there are healthier options, such as almond flour bread, which is slightly alkaline.
3 More Beans & Seeds
Many beans are often high in alkalines, such as navy, soy, and lima beans. Other good options to move to alkaline food include caraway, fennel, cumin, and sesame seeds.
4 Be Careful With Artificial Sweeteners
Alternatives to sugar are often very acidic such as xylitol, honey, and beet sugar. You might be safer sticking with Stevia as it is high in alkaline.
5 Avoid Condiments
You would be sad to know that condiments like ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, miso, and peanut butter are highly acidic. Of course, it is pretty difficult to eat a hot dog or burger plain. You can offset the acidity of condiments with other alkaline foods. Your good choices are mango, cantaloupe, melons, apples, or carrots.
6 Limit Alcohol, Dairy, and Coffee
Cheese, wine, and coffee are all very acidic. True, these can be difficult to give up. You might want to consider at least simply reducing your intake of these items.
Checking Your pH Levels
There are a couple of ways you can test the pH levels of your mouth. Did you know that hydrion pH test paper is commonly used to test your saliva? You can do it in the comfort of your home. You can purchase it from your local health food store. But you can also get your pH level tested by your dentist at their office.
When should you test your pH level? It is best to try your pH levels first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything. If you find that the levels are low, know that it is never too late to take the necessary steps to bring it up to a healthy level.
pH Level Testing
If the pH level is below 7.0, it usually indicates that acidemia might occur. Acidemia is the abnormal acidity of your blood. It is a chronic condition that exists in the mouth. Your mouth will be more susceptible to dental decay, recurrent dental decay, periodontitis, and halitosis in such a condition. Additionally, chronic acidemia could be a contributing factor in a variety of health conditions, even for your whole body, not just the mouth.
Are your pH levels low? It is never too late to take all the steps to bring your body chemistry back into balance. Consuming alkaline-producing foods and limiting acidic foods will help balance your body chemistry towards a more alkaline condition. There are other factors that could lead to an alkaline body condition as well. They primarily include removing excess concentrations of carbon dioxide in your body. With deep breathing exercises, you can reduce stress. The process will automatically help maintain the pH balance.
In addition, balanced body chemistry will also help protect your body, and your teeth and gums from bacterial infections, illnesses, and severe medical conditions.
If you have any further queries or concerns about the pH level in your mouth or anything relating to dental health, contact our team today. Our team at Dentist Ahmed will be more than happy to answer any questions you might have regarding your oral health. They can also help you to understand better what you need to know about the pH levels of your mouth.