Maintenance of pH in the human mouth

The pH of human saliva:
The healthy saliva of the human mouth is slightly acidic. It ranges from 6.2 to 7.6 (near neutrality) with 6.7 as the average pH. This range should be maintained for the proper functioning and good health of the body. The pH of the saliva can be tested by using pH strips.

If the pH falls below the normal range of healthy saliva, the saliva becomes acidic. This condition helps the bacteria to grow vigorously in the mouth and cause tooth demineralization, tooth decay, cavity formation. Consumption of food containing high amounts of starch, sucrose, lactose, glucose, and fructose also increases the bacterial growth in the mouth as these components are broken down by bacteria to release lactic acid, aspartic acid, and butyric acid which provide food to the bacteria. Some other diseases like diabetes, kidney disease, and high blood pressure can also occur in the body due to acidic saliva present in the mouth.

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If the pH exceeds the normal range of healthy saliva, the saliva becomes alkaline. This condition promotes metabolic alkalosis which can cause alcohol abuse, excess vomiting, adrenal disease, enamel erosion, cavity formation.

pH balance in the mouth:
The pH in the human mouth should be maintained. If it is not maintained, the dental health and overall health of the body will be affected. The food we eat is entering our body through the mouth therefore, regulation of the pH of the mouth is very important to regulate the pH of the human body. The normal range of pH helps to prevent diseases, dental disorders. When the normal range of pH in saliva exceeds or falls, various health problems occur in the body.

Some symptoms which occur due to unbalanced pH in the human mouth are-

Persistent bad breath

Damage of tooth enamel

Sensitivity to cold, hot, or sugary food

Cavities in tooth

Gum disease

Many good bacteria in the human mouth are harmless and help in the digestion of food. Some bacteria present in the human mouth protect the teeth and gums. These good bacteria grow only in the balanced pH of the mouth. If the pH of the mouth is not in the normal range (more acidic) for a long time, the bad bacteria get enough time to grow and damage teeth and gums. This can also result in tooth decay. Age also plays an important role in the change of the normal pH range of saliva. Adults may have more acidic saliva in comparison to children.

Maintenance of pH in the human mouth:
To maintain the pH level in the human mouth, we should be very conscious about our diet. The pH level in the human mouth should be regulated in the following ways-

Sugar, fruits, wine, black coffee, and grapefruit have a higher acid content. We should drink water after consumption of these items to rinse them out of the mouth. This will help to restore the pH level.

Food items such as sweet corn, rice, egg white, melon, and coconut have higher alkaline content. We can eat a slice of cheese after eating these types of alkaline food items as certain types of cheeses can rebalance pH levels.

Foods and beverages which have pH near the neutral should be consumed more to maintain the pH level in the mouth. Drinking plenty of pure water is very helpful in maintaining the pH.

Sugary soft drinks should be avoided. If a person is drinking a soft drink, he should drink it quickly and drink water after finishing the soft drink.

Food items like ketchup, sauce, mayonnaise, peanut butter (even organic), canned tuna, canned vegetables should also be avoided as they are not good to maintain the pH in the mouth.

Tooth enamel becomes soft after the consumption of high-acidity beverages such as fruit juices, soft drinks, cider, beer, and wine so brushing of the teeth should not be done just after drinking high acidic beverages.

It is good to chew sugarless gums (gums like having xylitol) after the consumption of high-acidity foods or beverages as this increases saliva production and helps to restore the pH in the mouth.

More vegetables should be added to the diet. Vegetables like red bell peppers, spinach, broccoli, kale, asparagus, and green beans are good for the body including dental health.

Avoid eating a sweet dessert after dinner. Instead of eating a sweet, we can eat fruits or vegetables having alkaline pH, at the end of our dinner.

After beverage or food consumption, the swishing of mouth with pure water should be done. Dental brushes, toothpicks, or floss can also be used to remove the sticky food residue.

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