pH and its relationship to oral health

Last week we published in our YouTube channel an experiment in which our partner Marina Millán measured the pH of different liquids using special test strips. The aim was to find out the level of acidity of these liquids, and thus find out which ones are more harmful to the enamel. In a somewhat basic causal relationship that we will explain in greater depth later, the higher the acidity, the more harmful to our oral health. 

Without going into the complexity surrounding pH from a chemistry point of view, suffice it to say that more than a century ago, the chemist Søren Peter Lauritz created what we know today as the pH scale, which ranges from values from 1 to 14 and according to which a neutral substance should give a result of 7. Anything below is considered acidic and anything above is considered alkaline. 

During the experiment carried out in our dental clinic in MurciaThe results did not come as a surprise, showing that the liquids with the lowest results were sweetened beverages or lemon, thus making them the most damaging to enamel. 

pH is important for our oral health because it is directly related to a substance on which we are highly dependent: our saliva. We have already discussed this at length in a blog post this past Junebut we could summarise its important beneficial properties in that it dilutes and neutralises sugars in food, it has the ability to buffer pH variations, and, most importantly, it contains defensive properties and antimicrobial action. 

The usual range of saliva is between 5.6 and 7.9 according to the International Journal of Drug Testing. If we break this balance, we increase the chances of developing tooth decay and enamel erosion, and this is where acidic foods and liquids come into play. These lower the pH of our mouth, which means that when we brush after eating, we can scratch the enamel. 

To prevent this, Marina also gave us a piece of advice earlier this week following the video:

A couple of points should be clarified. Firstly, although there is a lot of confusion about it, carbonated drinks such as the cola alluded to in the video are not only harmful to oral health because of their sugar content, but also because of their use of sugar. carbon dioxidewhich is an acidic substance that will lower the pH of our mouth. For this reason, the consumption of soft drinks of all kinds, not just those containing sugar, should be limited to a minimum, or even eliminated. 

Foods such as lemon or vinegar are healthy and recommendable, and they are usually mixed with other foods, so the pH is compensated to some extent. What is advisable is not to abuse them and, above all, not to fall into false myths that science has already demonstrated on dozens of occasions that they do not provide any benefit to the body, such as the one with the glass of lemon on an empty stomachwhose only effect on the body is to damage our enamel and dentin, as dietician Julio Basulto explained in this Twitter thread. 

The solution, as our colleague expresses in the video, is to simply let it go. 20 minutes to brushand the pH of our mouth will have been re-regulated. 

We also talked about not brushing immediately after eating in our previous article this blog entry.

And for more information on pH and its relationship with our oral health, you can consult this video by Dr. Diego Saura:

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