You’ve probably heard about pH levels regarding water and soil. Perhaps you even did a science project in school on pH levels. But do you know about the pH level of your mouth? The acidity of your mouth and the things you put in it can ultimately impact your tooth enamel. Though the pH levels of commercial toothpaste and other oral care products are not always available, you can learn more about how they impact your oral health.
Does The pH Of Toothpaste Affect Your 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.
Many factors play a role in your mouth's acidity — from diet to medications and even toothpaste. Unfortunately, the toothpaste's pH levels typically aren't listed on the pack. If you are concerned about your toothpaste negatively affecting your oral health, you can always ask your dental professional for product recommendations.
Thankfully, most toothpaste also contains ingredients that help protect your teeth. Fluoride is an ingredient in your toothpaste, making the tooth structure stronger through remineralization. A study in the journal Contemporary Clinical Dentistry (CCD) found that toothpaste with certain fluoride levels prevents enamel from demineralizing.
A healthy mouth has a near-neutral pH level – it should be neither too acidic nor too basic. So, for your best enamel health, there are plenty of ways to maintain optimal salivary pH. Schedule regular checkups with your dental providers to determine your enamel's strength or weakness, which might determine the toothpaste they recommend. Plus, eating a healthy diet and making good lifestyle choices play a significant role in maintaining a balanced pH.
If you are worried about your enamel, look for a toothpaste that contains fluoride to assist with remineralization. Knowing a little more about your toothpaste and oral care products' ingredients and pH level can help you make a more confident decision about the right toothpaste for your family.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.