To maintain a healthy mouth, the mouth must have a relatively neutral chemical makeup, or neutral pH. In saliva, a healthy pH is one that falls between 5.6 and 7.9. (A standard neutral pH is 7, the balanced pH level found in water.) A pH level of less than 5.5 can put a person at risk of tooth enamel erosion that can cause cavities.
Balancing the pH of the mouth is a way to reduce the bacteria that can cause tooth decay. Scientists have already identified two main compounds that help neutralize acid in the mouth. The first is urea, which everyone secretes in the mouth; the other is arginine, an amino acid. Research shows that adults and children with few or no cavities are better at breaking down arginine than people with cavities.
More recently, researchers at the University of Florida have discovered a new strain of good bacteria in the mouth. It is currently called A12, and is a strain of streptococcus that has been found to do a good job of breaking down compounds like arginine. A12 not only helps neutralize acid by metabolizing arginine in the mouth, it also often kills streptococcus mutans, a particularly harmful kind of bacteria that helps turn sugar into lactic acid.
The hope is that this discovery could lead to the development of an oral supplement to prevent cavities.
In the meantime, you can try to balance the pH in your mouth by eating fewer sugary foods such as candies, sodas, pastas, animal proteins and many natural fruits.
Angell’s Dentistry is committed to providing each of our patients with a beautiful, healthy smile and unmatched dental care. If you are looking for a dentist in the Troy and Birmingham area who utilizes the latest dental techniques and technology, be sure to check out Dr. Douglas Angell and visit our website at: www.angellsdentistry.com.