Most of us probably remember the pH scale from science class. But did you know that your mouth needs to be PH balanced and rebalanced to maintain a healthy environment for your teeth? The pH scale starts at 0 and goes up to 14. The lower the PH, the more acid it is. The higher the PH, the more alkaline the solution. This means that a pH of 7 is neutral. With that in mind, teeth begin to demineralize at a pH of 5.5. When teeth demineralize they are at a higher risk for cavities or tooth decay. In order for your mouth to be healthy, you need to maintain a pH level at or above neutral.
We can regard the process of maintaining a PH balance as a cycle of demineralization and remineralization. Saliva neutralizes the pH and clean acids produced by bacteria, creating a balanced pH and preventing further demineralization of enamel. If the production of bacteria accelerates faster than saliva removal, colonization of bacteria begins, lessening the buffering effect, and within an acidic environment, demineralization continues to damage tooth structure.
Like a marathon, maintaining oral PH balance is a long-time goal. We should keep a healthy habit to achieve the final goal. Below are some suggestions to maintain oral PH balance:
* Keep a good balance between acidic, neutral, and alkaline foods in your diet. Do not go to either extreme in your diet choices. Do not intake too much acid food, and make sure you can get the proper nutrients and vitamins needed for mouth and body health.
* Fewer snacks and beverages. After consuming snacks and some beverages other than water, it takes 10 mins or longer for our mouth to back to normal PH level. It seems impossible to reject snacks and beverages completely, but we should try to limit the frequency.
*Chew sugar-free gum. After a meal or an acidic drink, chew sugar-free gum. This behavior encourages the mouth to make saliva and is helpful to restore oral PH balance. If possible the gum should contain xylitol. It will increase saliva production and prevent bacteria from clinging to tooth enamel.
*Do not brush teeth immediately after drinking or eating. The enamel is already softened by the acidity after drinking or eating. If you brush now, the toothbrush bristles will brush off enamel and weaken the protective layer.
*Drink lots of water. Swishing water in your mouth after food consumption is a good way to keep your PH balance. But make sure the water you drink has the proper balance.