Whether it's for whitening or mineralizing, you may not have considered how the pH of toothpaste affects your enamel. In addition to daily brushing and your regular appointment, choosing a toothpaste with the right pH should be a prudent consideration when it comes to keeping your teeth strong.
What Is pH?
pH ranges from 0 to 14, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and is used to grade the base or acidity of a given substance. Specifically, it measures the amount of hydrogen ions it carries. The more ions present, the more acidic the product; the lower the amount, the more basic. Acids range between 7 and 0 on the scale, whereas bases fall between 7 and 14.
Your body actually maintains its pH balance within a specific range: from 7.35 to 7.45, as estimated by the Journal of Emergency Medical Services (JEMS). Hydrogen ions are responsible, in part, for every chemical reaction in your body. Wondering what a safe level is in toothpaste or mouthwash? The pH scale may be helpful to keep in mind when deciding.
How It Affects Your Tooth Enamel
As you know, too much soda or candy is unsafe to your teeth. Enamel erosion is caused by demineralization, per RDH Magazine – and that's due to the amount of acidity in the things you eat. Remember, the lower the pH level on the scale, the more acidic and more harmful it is. It stands to reason that more acidic toothpastes can be especially harmful to your enamel in the long run. To be sure, consult your dentist before you use peroxide-based products, which can have a higher level of acidity.
pH in Tooth-Whiteners
In general, over-the-counter (OTC) whitening products can still be used safely because the pH is "significantly lower," according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). When it comes to your enamel, however, be mindful of the wide range in the pH of toothpaste and OTC products. pH levels can range from an acidic 3.76, to a basic, safer 9.68, as reported in the South African Dental Journal. Colgate Total® Advanced Whitening toothpaste, for instance, has this more basic pH. Toothpastes typically don't have the pH level listed on the tube or container, though, so always speak to your dentist first about the whiteners he or she would recommend for your teeth.
pH in Mineralizers
Your enamel starts to demineralize when exposed to a pH level of about 5.5. Using toothpaste with fluoride is always a good choice for your enamel health (and oral care in general). At about 6.6 on the pH scale, fluoride is a weak base, which won't eat away at your enamel. It counteracts the effects of acid on your teeth by "making the tooth structure stronger," and works as a remineralizing agent by blocking decay and helping prevent future tooth decay, per The American Dental Association (ADA).
The Right Toothpaste for Your Enamel
For the best enamel health, schedule regular checkups with your dentist and talk to him or her about how hard or weak your enamel is at present. Take a recommendation on the best toothpaste for your enamel and for how long you should use it. If your teeth are sensitive, you might also consider toothpastes for sensitive teeth, which can help further remineralize enamel. As always, consult with him or her about pH levels in any of your oral care products – mouthwash and peroxide-based whitening rinses included – before adding something new to your regular care routine.
A healthy mouth has a near-neutral pH level; it should be neither too acidic nor too basic, and above 5.5 on the pH scale. Keeping a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle play a big role in maintaining this balance. And knowing a little more about the pH levels in your toothpaste and oral care products can help you make a more confident decision when deciding on the right toothpaste for your family.