On topic with Dr. Dill: 

balancing your mouth's pH

Balance: it’s what many people are trying to achieve in their lives. That balance is often between work, life, family and friends. But have you considered how to balance the pH in your mouth?

Why pH matters

The pH scale measures how acidic or how alkaline a substance is. The scale goes from 0 to 14, with 7 representing neutral acid levels. The lower the number, the more acidic; the higher the number, the more alkaline.

For comparison, plain water has a neutral pH level of 7.

The normal pH level of saliva is between 6.7 and 7.4, meaning it is relatively neutral. Multiple factors can increase or decrease the pH level of saliva, which can influence oral health.

Factors that increase acidity

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    Eating foods high in sugar: Bacteria in your mouth release different acids when they break down carbohydrates, fiber, sugar and more. The increase in acids lowers your mouth's overall pH.

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    Highly acidic beverages: Certain coffee drinks and fruit juices are all high in sugar and acid, which will decrease your saliva's pH level.

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    Age: Adults tend to have saliva with a lower pH (or more acidic) than children.

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    Tobacco use: Both smoking and chewing tobacco increase the acidity of saliva.

pH and oral health

Your tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your body, but it’s still no match for high acidity. When the pH level of saliva goes below 5.5, the enamel protecting your teeth loses minerals and starts weakening. Enamel cannot heal itself or grow back, so the damage done by high acidity levels can be long term. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste and drinking fluoridated water can help repair damaged enamel.

The erosion of enamel can lead to:

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    Sensitive teeth

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    Tooth discoloration 

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    Increase in cavities

Restoring pH

Use these four tips to help restore the balance naturally:

  1. Enjoy acidic foods like tomatoes, grapefruits and oranges only in moderation.
  2. Chew sugar-free gum to boost saliva production and wash away acids.
  3. Reach for foods high in calcium, like soybeans and spinach, to help neutralize acids.
  4. Wait 30 minutes to brush after eating or drinking anything that's highly acidic.


Meet Joseph Dill, DDS, Delta Dental’s Chief Dental Officer. With more than 30 years of experience in the dental field, including eight in private and public health practice and 20 in dental insurance, Dr. Dill provides expert insights and helpful advice to keep you smiling bright.

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