First, What is pH?
A balanced pH in your body is essential for good overall health. And a proper oral pH balance is good for your teeth. An acidic pH balance in your mouth causes your teeth to rot. So it’s worth learning about.
In the pH Color Chart to the left, 0 to 14 are used to describe the chemical level of acidity versus the level of alkalinity of substances. Zero is the most acidic. Seven is the perfect balance of acidity and alkalinity, a perfect pH level. Fourteen is the most alkaline.
Pure water has the perfect pH level of 7.
If your blood is healthy, it has a pH just above 7, slightly on the alkaline side.
The Importance of Proper pH Balance
As an adult, your body is made up of about 60 percent water.
- The brain and heart are 73 percent water
- Muscles are 79 percent water
- Bones (and teeth) are 31 percent water
This is why your body NEEDS you to consume lots of water with its properly balanced pH level daily! You cannot live or function properly without water.
Your kidneys filter out impurities from your cardiovascular system and maintain the right balance of acidity and alkalinity in your blood. Their job is to maintain a pH level of 7.4 in your blood.
If your blood is more acidic and has a low pH level, metabolic acidosis occurs. And when this happens, your body cannot function properly. Metabolic acidosis hinders the natural chemical processes in order to do so. Those with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, kidney disease, an overwhelming infection, or severe diarrhea usually deal with metabolic acidosis. Those who abuse the use of laxatives, for whatever reason, will bring on metabolic acidosis in the blood.
But when you have a high pH level in the blood, metabolic alkalosis occurs. This means there is too much alkaline in the blood. The abuse of alcohol, laxatives, and diuretics, as well as adrenal disease, and excessive vomiting causes metabolic alkalosis.
Now we’re getting to how yummy holiday drinks are bad for your teeth.
Your mouth is a watery ecosystem. It requires a balanced pH that is a tiny bit alkaline. If your saliva is healthy, it has a pH of 7.4, just like healthy blood does. But eating acidic foods and beverages (aka holiday drinks) drops the pH balance in your mouth below 5.5. And this acidic pH balance creates an imbalance that demineralizes your tooth enamel. It’s an open door with a welcome mat to cavities. “Come on in, Dental Caries!”
Demineralization causes your tooth enamel to wear thin and exposes the dentin. And when tooth enamel is thin, your teeth will be super sensitive to hot, cold, or sugary foods and drinks. Not fun to put it mildly.
The Food and Drug Administration says some vegetables are acidic. Green cabbage has a pH balance of 5.5. Some cheeses, like American cheese with a pH of 4.98, are acidic as well. Raw cherries are acidic with a pH of 4, and a pH 3.32 when frozen. Check out this comprehensive FDA food list here.
How to Balance the pH in Your Mouth
So if you’re thinking about eating or drinking only foods and beverages with a pH of 7, don’t. You’ll deprive your body of essential vitamins and minerals. Plus, the foods you eat will be pretty boring. It’s possible to reach and maintain pH balance in your mouth by following a few simple guidelines.
- Drink your beverages quickly
If you must drink a holiday beverage or any sugary beverage for that matter, don’t sip it, or nurse it, all.day.long. Drink it quickly. Then drink some water to wash away the sugar and restore the pH balance in your mouth. (Your hygienist will be impressed and super glad for you!)
- Don’t brush your teeth
This seems like an oxymoron, but don’t brush your teeth right away after drinking pop, wine, cider, beer, or fruit juices. The acidity of these drinks softens tooth enamel. Then when you follow with your toothbrush right away, the bristles literally brush off enamel.
- Counteract acidity
Counteract the acidity of coffee by adding half-n-half, heavy whipping cream, or milk before you drink it. But don’t add a sugar-laden, flavored creamer.
- Eat a balanced meal
Balance acidic foods with alkaline foods at mealtime.
- Consume cheese after dessert
Some cheeses, eaten at the end of meals, rebalance pH levels.
- Chew gum
Follow meals and acidic drinks with chewing gum. Gum that contains xylitol, such as Spry, is your best choice. When you chew gum your mouth makes saliva restoring pH balance. Xylitol encourages your mouth to produce saliva. It also prevents bacteria from sticking to your tooth enamel. This is why xylitol is used to treat dry mouth.
- Drink water
Drink lots of water (pH 7).
Are Holiday Drinks Bad for Your Teeth?
Yes, and it’s all about acidity. So for healthy teeth, acidity in your mouth must be kept to a minimum. A pH level of 7.5 or above can help your teeth become stronger and remineralize. But acidity weakens teeth. And the amount of time that acids are in contact with your teeth determines how much damage occurs.
If you’re having trouble balancing the pH in your mouth, contact Davis Dental at (307) 634-3488 today. Something more serious could be going on. For instance, bad breath that just won’t go away is an indication of a more serious dental or medical condition. Conditions such as xerostomia or gastroesophageal reflux disease cause acidity in your mouth. Xerostomia decreases the pH level in your mouth which significantly increases the development of plaque and cavities.
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Cheyenne, WY 82001
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