How Does pH Affect My Tooth Enamel?
Ready for a mini science lesson? The “H” in pH stands for the chemical element hydrogen, and the “p” refers to the word "potential." So, pH is the “potential of hydrogen” and translates the values of the concentration of the hydrogen ions. The pH scale measures a substance's acidity or basicity and ranges from 0 to 14, with 7 (pure water) being neutral. On a pH scale:
- Less than 7 indicates acidity (straight lemon juice’s pH is 2)
- Greater than 7 indicates base, or the alkaline level (baking soda’s pH is 9.5)
Your body maintains a pH balance of around 7.4, as measured by your blood. And hydrogen ions are responsible, in part, for every chemical reaction in your body. So, the pH of anything you put in your mouth can affect your teeth, gums, and tongue.
Most importantly, acidic pH levels lead to demineralization. Your enamel starts to demineralize when exposed to a pH level of about 5.5. And that can cause many oral issues, including tooth sensitivity and decay. That’s why too much soda, sports drinks, candy, and citrus is unsafe for your teeth. Enamel erosion, caused by demineralization, is due to the amount of acidity in what you eat and the products you use.