“In order to reach a new destination, we must first know our current location.”
In part 1 of this subject, we explored the importance of having ways to know whether an action we are taking is helping us to create positive change or not. We refer to these tools as feedback mechanisms or feedback loops.
In other words, we have some way to quantify whether the actions we are taking is helping us or not.
While this seems pretty straight forward, if you stop to think about how many supplements we’ve taken over the years because we thought that they would help us but never got any feedback whether they helped or not, you’ll see that we take actions all the time without ever really knowing if the specific action helped or not.
Thus, the importance of having clearly defined feedback loops.
If you haven’t read part one, please do so as this 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 we appreciate specifically for navigating to greater oral health – checking our oral pH.
It’s inexpensive and provides a good measurement of the relative state of health of your mouth.
How does a pH test kit work?
The pH test tape is activated to varying degrees of color based on the pH of the fluid that the tape is used to test. Simply cut a piece of the tape from the spool and dip the tape into some saliva that you spit out. I tend to simply spit into a dry bathroom sink in the morning to test.
(Quick note, even though you may see this done, it’s not suggested to put the tape in your mouth or on your tongue. The manufacturer of these test kits suggest the above technique to test your saliva and keep the tape out of your mouth.)
Not all pH test kits are created equal…
If you take a look at the various similar products on the market that help us have the ability to test pH, many you’ll find have a wider range that they can test.
Along with this is the fact that these test kits with wider ranges also have more ‘space’ between the various shades that determine what the pH is of whatever fluid you are testing at the moment. We have found that our pH test kits, while they have a narrower range, also offer a more accurate reading of the pH of one’s saliva.
For example, in other kits on the market, the incremental variance for pH testing is .5.
However, in our OraWellness pH test kits, the incremental variance is .2, thus providing a more accurate ability to use this powerful feedback tool within the common range specifically found with 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 lower than 5.5. Optimal saliva pH is 6.8-7.0.
Quick chemistry review…
The pH scale is from 0 to 14, 7 is the mid line. Water is ideally very close to pH 7. Any number lower than 7 is acidic. Any number higher than 7 is alkaline. And the further away from 7 the pH is, 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.
We discussed the role of pH in a recent post titled “How to drink kombucha and NOT destroy your teeth”. In that article, we detail how drinking acidic beverages can damage our teeth by giving them a regular ‘acid wash’.
Why is saliva pH important to oral health?
Well, other than the obvious fact that tooth enamel demineralizes at lower pH in the mouth, the types of bugs that thrive in the mouth are determined by the ecological environment of the mouth. We took 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 the mouth pH is off the ideal range of 6.8-7.0, this less than optimal pH results in a tendency for ‘thug bugs’ to proliferate in the mouth.
In this way, keeping an eye on our saliva pH provides us an easy to measure ‘feedback loop’ to know whether our actions to improve our oral health are helping or not.
What is of greatest importance is when saliva pH is consistently around or below 5.5 as 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.
In this way, tracking our saliva pH is an excellent tool to assist us to balance our oral flora and be a good conductor of the symphony in our mouth.
Ways to use the pH test strips to optimize your oral health
1. first thing in the morning to determine your baseline oral pH.
2. before and after brushing teeth to see how using whatever product you use is helping to re-establish a healthier oral pH or not.
3. to test drinks you like to determine their relative pH so you can know if you need to take corrective actions to support tooth enamel after consuming the drink. (For a deeper dive, 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″ strip off the roll.
2. Spit saliva (not the thick stuff :)) into a cup or even just into a dry sink or bathroom counter.
3. Place one end of the strip into saliva until saturated (1-2 seconds is generally sufficient)
4. Immediately compare the color of the wet strip to the color chart on the test kit
5. Record the morning 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 and take notes how various foods, stress levels, and other factors impact your saliva pH.
Using a powerful feedback tool like our saliva pH tracker provides an excellent way to assist you along your path to optimal oral health.
(Full disclosure, yes, we do sell a saliva pH test kit. And yes, we are proud to announce that our pH test tape is one of the lowest priced on the market. 🙂 ) To get the best price on our pH test kit, check out our OraWellness Starter Kit Complete which includes an awesome collection of products specially bundled to provide you savings and assist you in creating positive change in your oral health.
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?”
In an upcoming article, we will explore the many ways we can impact saliva pH via diet, exercise and lifestyle habits.
But before we make any changes, we have to know our current location. Testing our saliva pH and tracking it on our free saliva pH tracker provides you real time feedback where you’re current location is.
What about you? Have you benefited from monitoring your saliva pH? Please share your story below in the comments so we all can benefit from everyone’s experience. We’re in this together!
Helpful, Related Resources:
How to KNOW if you are heading in the right direction (part 1) [article + free download]
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?” [FAQ article]
OraWellness pH tracker [FREE download]
How to stop decay and remineralize your teeth [FREE resource guidebook]