Is My Child’s Saliva pH Too Acidic?

Mar 29, 2021

At Stellar Kids Dentistry in Mukilteo, Mill Creek, and Everett, Washington, we know the pH level in your child’s mouth is probably the last thing on your mind. After all, your family already prioritizes brushing and flossing, seeing the dentist at least twice a year, and limiting their sugar intake.

You’re already taking the right steps to ensure your little one’s teeth remain healthy and cavity-free. But if your child suddenly has sensitive teeth or early tooth loss, they may be vulnerable to tooth erosion from an unbalanced pH level of the saliva in their mouth. 

What does an unbalanced pH level mean?

When most people think of pH levels, they automatically think of chemistry class. pH refers to how acidic or alkaline (basic) water is. On a 1-14 scale, with 1 being the most acidic and 14 the most basic, 7 is considered neutral.

Why pH levels matter in dentistry 

For a liquid to have a pH level, it must be an aqueous solution, meaning it contains water. That means the saliva in your mouth has its own pH level. While you might not realize it, the pH level of your child’s saliva can significantly impact their oral health.

Teeth have a hard, protective layer called enamel. Tooth enamel helps to preserve the soft dentin underneath. When your child’s saliva pH is too acidic, it can eat away at their protective enamel.

How do pH levels affect oral health?

Ideally, saliva should have a pH level of 7 or as close to it as possible. Once it drops below 5.5, saliva becomes too acidic and erodes your child’s tooth enamel. This lack of protection can lead to potentially serious dental health concerns, including:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Pain when consuming hot foods or drinks
  • Rough spots on teeth
  • Tooth discoloration or yellowing teeth
  • Tooth decay and cavities
  • Early tooth loss

Why saliva pH matters in baby teeth

Baby teeth are naturally softer than adult teeth. They’re more susceptible to tooth erosion from acidic saliva. Acids can easily penetrate their enamel, increasing their risk of cavities, tooth sensitivity, and early tooth loss. 

Everything your child consumes impacts their oral health. If your child struggles with acidic saliva, a diet change may be the best way to avoid dental complications.

How to avoid acidic saliva

Neutralizing saliva typically means increasing your child’s intake of certain foods and limiting their intake of others. Here are a few tips to neutralize the pH of your child’s saliva:

Avoid sugar and sweeteners.

Sugar and artificial sweeteners lower your child’s pH levels and eat away at their protective tooth enamel. Limiting your family’s intake of candy, soda, juice, and chocolate can help increase the pH level of their saliva.

Eat more vegetables.

Many vegetables are naturally alkaline, which can help counteract the acids in your child’s saliva. For good oral health, try incorporating the following vegetables into your family’s diet:

  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Bell peppers
  • Green beans

Limit bread and carbohydrates.

Bread and many other types of carbohydrates break down as starches. Sugar increases your child’s chances of getting plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that clings to teeth and breaks down tooth enamel.

Limit acidic fruits.

Acidic fruits, such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit, can break down tooth enamel and lead to increased sensitivity.

Drink more water.

Having your child drink more water is a simple trick to wash away acids before they have a chance to penetrate their tooth enamel.

For more tips on how to keep your child’s saliva pH balanced, talk to the experts at Stellar Kids Dentistry or book an appointment online today!