By Fiona Ligertwood (edited and created by Kristen Kizer)
What is saliva?
Saliva is a natural disinfectant that protects teeth and gums. It helps prevent decay, tooth enamel erosion, gum recession, and has many more important attributes. Another one of saliva’s roles is to keep the pH of the mouth balanced.
How does our mouth get acidic?
Whenever we consume food and drink (other than water) the body’s natural digestive process requires an increase in acidity within the mouth. This initial digestive process helps to process the food and drink for digestive absorption in the gut.
Following this stage, the saliva’s role is to rectify the pH and take it from acidic back to alkaline, keeping a healthy balance and replacing any minerals in the enamel whilst keeping teeth and gums stable and strong.
Why is an acidic mouth bad?
Issues arise when the resting saliva (which should be alkaline) is actually acidic or when the mouth is exposed to gut acid (Reflux/Regurgitation or Burping)
When the mouth is acidic, the protecting, disinfecting, repairing role of saliva either does not occur at all, or does not occur at the required level to keep a healthy pH balance. Therefore, the high acidity of the saliva leads to decay, erosion of enamel and dissolving of gum. What makes this process even more devastating is the bacteria that cause decay and gum infection favour an acidic environment.
Why might saliva become acidic?
There are several reasons that the saliva may be acidic. Some of these may be due to medications, gastric reflux, food intolerances, abnormal gut bacteria or parasites, Coeliac disease, high stress and anxiety, nocturnal gastric reflux (often unaware), excessive soft drink / high sugar / high acid consumption, dehydration, constant snacking or grazing are a few of the factors that can alter pH levels of the saliva.
How can Oasis Dental help?
At Oasis Dental, our next-level hygiene program includes saliva pH testing where recommended. The value of testing the saliva pH may be to provide a baseline recording for your dental records. Also, saliva test results may give insight to what is causing dental issues, prevent further dental issues or, it may even assist in discovering an underling health issue (in which case we would recommend you to seek further medical advice from your Medical GP).