In part 1 of this two-part article series, we explored the importance of feedback mechanisms / feedback loops.
In other words, we need a way to evaluate whether or not the actions we’re taking are helping us create positive changes in our oral health.
This seems pretty straightforward. However, we do things all the time without ever really knowing if the specific action helped.
For example, how many supplements have we taken over the years because we thought that they would help us, but we never got any feedback on whether or not they actually did?
When it comes to supporting our oral health, it’s super important to develop clearly defined feedback loops.
“Before we journey to a new oral health destination, we must first know our current location.” – OraWellness.com
If you haven’t read part one of this series yet, please do. That step truly is the most empowering action that anyone can take to create positive change in their oral health.
In today’s article, we want to share another feedback loop that we find helpful for navigating to greater oral health: checking our saliva pH.
It’s an inexpensive test that you can do yourself at home, and it provides a good measurement of your relative state of oral health.
How does a pH test kit work?
The pH test tape changes to various degrees of color based on the pH of the fluid that’s being tested.
Simply cut a piece of the tape from the spool and dip the tape into some saliva that you spit out.
When I test my saliva pH, I tend to do it in the morning. I simply spit into a dry bathroom sink, dip my cut piece of test tape into the saliva, and then ‘read’ the color on the tape.
(Quick note: it’s not recommended to put the tape into your mouth or onto your tongue, even though you may see some other folks do this in online tutorials. Instead, the manufacturer of these test kits suggests the above technique for testing your saliva.)
Not all pH test kits are created equal…
If you take a look at the variety of pH tester kits on the market, you’ll find that many of them advertise that they test a wider range than their competitor’s products.
However, these test kits with wider ranges also have more ‘space’ (a wider data gap) between the various color shades that determine the pH of the fluid that you’re testing.
We have found that while our pH test kits have a narrower range, they also provide a better reading of one’s saliva pH.
For example, in other kits on the market, the incremental variance for pH testing is 0.5.
However, for our OraWellness pH Test Strips, the incremental variance is 0.2. This provides more accuracy for testing the common pH range for human saliva.
What does testing saliva pH tell us?
Many things, really.
First off, the tape can simply be used to determine how acidic your saliva is right now.
This is very helpful to see if your oral ecological environment (say that 3x fast 🙂 ) is in the zone of REmineralization or DEmineralization.
You see, it’s generally recognized that tooth enamel dissolves in a pH that’s lower than 5.5. Optimal saliva pH is 6.8 to 7.0.
Quick chemistry review…
The pH scale goes from 0 to 14, and 7 is the mid-line. Ideally, a good source of clean water would be very close to a pH of 7.
Any number that’s lower than 7 is acidic. Any number that’s higher than 7 is alkaline.
And the further away that the pH is from 7, the more acidic or alkaline the fluid is. For example, a fluid that has a pH of 4.0 is 10 times more acidic than a fluid that has a pH of 5.0.
In our article, “How to drink kombucha and NOT destroy your teeth“, we discuss pH a little more. We also explain how habitually drinking acidic beverages can damage our teeth over time.
Why is saliva pH important to oral health?
Again, tooth enamel can demineralize if our mouth pH is low.
Also, our mouth’s ecological environment determines the types of bugs that thrive there. We take a close look at the relationship between oral pH, sugar, and plaque in the article, “The ‘perfect storm’ for decay – the interplay between pH, sugar, saliva and plaque“.
When our mouth pH falls outside of the ideal range of 6.8 to 7.0, this less-than-optimal pH results in a tendency for oral ‘thug bugs’ to proliferate.
Keeping an eye on our saliva pH provides us with an easy-to-measure ‘feedback loop’. It tells us whether or not our current attempts to improve our oral health are actually helping.
It’s especially important to note when saliva pH is consistently around or below 5.5. The scientific community has recognized that consistently low (acidic) saliva pH provides the ideal environment for all sorts of disease-causing microorganisms (thug bugs) to thrive.
So, tracking our saliva pH can be an excellent tool to help us learn how to balance our oral flora.
Ways to use pH test strips to optimize your oral health
Feel free to use pH Test Strips:
- First thing in the morning to determine your baseline oral pH.
- Before and after brushing your teeth to see if the product you use is helping to re-establish a healthier oral pH.
- To test beverages you typically drink to determine their relative pH. That way, you’ll know if you need to take corrective actions after consuming the drink to support your tooth enamel. (For a deeper dive on this, check out, “How to drink kombucha and not destroy your teeth” and, “Can brushing after a meal damage my teeth?“)
How to use the pH strips
1. Cut a 1-inch segment off of the test strip roll.
2. Spit saliva (not the thick, mucusy stuff 🙂 ) into a cup or small dish, or even just into a dry sink or onto a bathroom counter.
3. Place one end of the pH test strip into the saliva until it becomes saturated (1 to 2 seconds is generally sufficient).
4. Immediately compare the color of the wet strip against the color chart on the test kit.
5. Record the pH so you can track your progress of shifting your oral pH over time.
We have created a free simple yet powerful pH tracking tool to serve as a record for you to use.
In this way, you can track your morning saliva pH. Then, you can take notes about how various foods, stress levels, and other factors impact your saliva pH throughout the day.
Using a feedback tool like our saliva pH tracker is a powerful way to assist you along your path to optimal oral health.
(For full disclosure, yes, we do sell pH Test Strips, and it happens to be one of the lowest-priced pH test products on the market. 🙂
Also, if you’re ready to take your oral health to the next level and gain a complete understanding of how to stop tooth decay and reverse cavities, feel free to download our FREE resource guide, “How to Remineralize Your Teeth”
“How can I change my saliva pH?”
If you find that your saliva pH is just occasionally low (acidic), in those instances, you may have eaten or done something that temporarily threw off the balance in your mouth.
To give your mouth a little assistance in recovering, feel free to swish with some clean water to help wash away any remaining food/beverage acids. Or better yet, try swishing with clean water and a pinch of baking soda to help neutralize any remaining acids.
And again, remember to avoid brushing your teeth right after eating or drinking.
If your saliva is consistently more on the acidic side, then it might be helpful to look into the many online tips for alkaline diets. Modifying your diet to make it more alkaline can be a good way to balance your saliva pH ‘from the inside, out’.
In an upcoming article, we will explore the many ways we can impact saliva pH via diet, exercise and lifestyle habits.
In the meantime, feel free to check out the oral health-supporting dietary tips in our free video series, 5 Steps to a Healthy Mouth.
But before we make any changes, we need to know where we currently stand.
Testing our saliva pH and tracking it on our free saliva pH tracker provides you real-time feedback on your current pH status.
What about you? Have you benefited from monitoring your saliva pH? Please share your story in the comments below so we all can benefit from everyone’s experiences. We’re in this together!
Helpful, Related Resources:
How to KNOW if you are heading in the right direction (part 1) [article + free download]
OraWellness pH Test Strips [product solution]
How to drink kombucha (or other acidic drinks) and NOT destroy your teeth [article]
The ‘perfect storm’ for decay – the interplay between pH, sugar, saliva and plaque [article]
How to balance your oral flora [article]
Can brushing after a meal damage my teeth? [article]
OraWellness pH tracker [FREE download]
OraWellness Starter Kit Complete [product solution]
How to stop decay and remineralize your teeth [FREE resource guidebook]
5 Steps to a Healthy Mouth [[FREE video series]]