Your mouth, like any natural ecosystem, needs to maintain a proper balance to stay healthy. In nature, we think of the correct balance of animal life, plant life, and healthy soil and water. In your oral environment, a healthy balance is a high pH balance, which keeps the bacteria in the oral biofilm (like the plant and animal life) healthy. Maintaining a healthy pH balance helps to maintain your tooth enamel and prevent decay. Among other strategies that can keep your pH high, studies have indicated that using an oral rinse is a great way to maintain high pH.
pH is a scale that measures the level of acid or base (alkalinity). Low numbers indicate acids, 7 is neutral, and higher numbers indicate a base. In your mouth, acids can wreak havoc on your enamel. Acids can dissolve the minerals that build strong enamel out of the enamel surface. Certain bacteria also thrive in an acidic environment; unfortunately, they are the bacteria closely associated with cavity formation. These bacteria not only grow in acids, they produce more acid to keep the environment to their liking.
Every time you eat or drink something other than plain water, your mouth experiences a pH drop. Your saliva attempts to correct the pH balance, but frequent eating can overwhelm your body’s ability to keep a high pH level. The simplest answer is to eat fewer meals per day and allow plenty of time for your saliva’s natural mechanisms to work. However, that may not always be possible. If frequent eating needs to be part of your plan, your oral care plan should reflect that.
It’s easy to think brushing right after eating is the best possible step to protect your teeth, but it turns out that is not the best plan. You can brush valuable minerals right out of your enamel if you brush while your oral pH is still low. The current recommendation is to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing. But, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to help return your mouth to healthy conditions.
The answer is in the rinse. You can rinse your mouth out with plain water after eating. It’s a good start. But, recent studies have shown that using an oral rinse can quickly raise saliva’s pH level back to healthy levels. When looking for a healthy, high pH rinse, you may find it helpful to consult a list like this one of common product pH levels.
Using an oral rinse after eating or drinking is a simple way to help preserve tooth enamel by restoring a healthy oral pH.