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What is the pH level of Saliva?
The pH level of saliva varies from person to person and throughout the day. However, the ideal pH level of saliva is between 6.5 to 7.5, which is slightly acidic to neutral.
How is the pH level of saliva regulated?
Saliva pH is regulated by buffering capacity, bicarbonate ions, enzymes, and saliva flow rate. Diet and oral hygiene practices play a critical role in maintaining the pH levels of saliva. Bicarbonate ions neutralise acids, while enzymes like amylase help break down carbohydrates.
Factors affecting the pH level of Saliva
The pH level of saliva can be influenced by several factors, including:
- Diet: The type of food and beverages you consume can affect your saliva pH. Foods that are acidic or high in sugar can lower saliva pH, while alkaline foods can raise it.
- Dehydration: When you are dehydrated, your saliva becomes more concentrated, which can lower its pH level.
- Medications: Certain medications can affect saliva pH. For example, some antacids can raise saliva pH, while some antibiotics can lower it.
- Health conditions: Certain health conditions, such as acid reflux, can affect saliva pH. Acid reflux can cause stomach acid to enter the mouth, which can lower saliva pH.
- Oral hygiene: Poor oral hygiene can increase the number of bacteria in the mouth, which can lower saliva pH.
- Salivary gland function: Saliva is produced by the salivary glands. If there is a problem with the function of these glands, it can affect saliva pH.
- Age: As we age, the pH level of saliva tends to decrease. This is because the salivary glands produce less saliva as we get older.
Effects of low pH level of saliva
The pH level of saliva can have various effects on the mouth and overall health. A low pH level means that the saliva is more acidic than normal, which can lead to several issues.
- Tooth decay: A low pH level can increase the risk of tooth decay because it weakens the enamel that protects the teeth. Over time, this can cause cavities and other dental problems.
- Bad breath: A low pH level can cause bad breath because it creates an environment in which bacteria thrive. These bacteria produce compounds that give off an unpleasant odour.
- Gum disease: A low pH level can also increase the risk of gum disease, which can lead to bleeding, inflammation, and even tooth loss.
- Acid reflux: If the pH level of saliva is consistently low, it can also be a sign of acid reflux. This condition occurs when the stomach acid flows back into the oesophagus, causing a burning sensation in the throat and chest.
- Overall health: The pH level of saliva can also impact overall health. For example, a low pH level can make it more difficult for the body to absorb certain nutrients, which can lead to deficiencies.
Effects of high pH level of saliva
Saliva’s pH has multiple effects on the mouth. A high pH level indicates that the saliva is more alkaline than normal, which can lead to many oral problems.
- Increased risk of tooth decay: When the pH level of saliva is high, it can increase the risk of tooth decay because it can promote the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth.
- Dry mouth: High pH levels in saliva can also lead to a condition known as dry mouth, where the mouth feels dry and uncomfortable.
- Alteration of taste: High pH levels in saliva can also cause a change in the taste perception of some people, leading to a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth.
- Bad breath: When the pH level of saliva is high, it can lead to an increase in the number of bacteria that produce foul-smelling compounds, which can cause bad breath.
- Increased risk of oral infections: High pH levels in saliva can also increase the risk of oral infections, such as thrush or candidiasis, which are caused by the overgrowth of fungi in the mouth.
- Enamel erosion: Over time, high pH levels in saliva can cause erosion of the tooth enamel, which can lead to tooth sensitivity, discolouration, and even tooth loss if left untreated.
How to maintain a healthy pH level of saliva?
Maintaining a healthy pH level of saliva is essential for good oral health. We can follow the following tips to maintain a healthy pH level of saliva:
- Avoid sugary and acidic foods and drinks: Consuming sugary and acidic foods and drinks can lower the pH level of saliva, leading to tooth decay and erosion of tooth enamel.
- Drink plenty of water: Drinking water helps to flush out the bacteria and acids from our mouth, promoting a healthy pH level of saliva.
- Chew sugarless gum: Chewing sugarless gum stimulates the production of saliva, which helps to neutralize the acid in our mouth.
- Maintain good oral hygiene: Brushing twice a day and flossing daily helps to remove the bacteria and plaque from our teeth, preventing tooth decay and gum disease.