Alkaline Foods: The Oral Health Superhero

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Remember high school science class when you learned about the pH scale?  Y’know, acids and alkalines (some teachers may refer to them as bases)?  It’s very likely you were initially exposed to this regarding various substances, most likely liquids, to determine how acidic or basic they were.  I bet you even learned about the litmus test.

This same scale can be a helpful factor in planning out a healthy lifestyle.  Sweet foods that are rich in sugars and carbohydrates, such as soft drinks, pastries and candy are known to contribute to various health issues that strike home today for many, including obesity and the onset of diabetes.  The common factor in all of these; they grade relatively low on the pH scale and are known to be acidic.

Did you know this same principle can be used as a metric for your oral health?  Everyone knows that acids in foods are commonly associated with the wearing and breaking down of tooth enamel that protects our teeth.  For example, drink enough orange juice or carbonated beverages (ie: soda/pop/bubbly/whatever you call it) and you’re bound to give yourself a few cavities if you don’t take proper precautions or appropriate countermeasures.

BUT!  Did you know that it can work in reverse?  Supplementing a diet with foods that have a higher pH level (alkalines) essentially reverses the effects of tooth decay that most acidic foods cause with their heavy doses of sugar or carbohydrates.  This is due mostly to the fact that a lot of alkaline foods actually provide high doses of minerals that can aid in the re-mineralization and restoration of tooth enamel.  What’s more, a lot of these foods actually contribute to what many consider to be a healthy diet, primarily consisting of fruits and vegetables.  So, you’re effectively killing two birds with one stone: eating to maintain good oral health and eating to maintain good health on an overall scale.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should cut out the oral hygiene altogether.  After all, we are human and creatures of habit.  We’re always going to indulge here and there, and no one is expected to cut out acidic foods from their diet completely. A good brushing twice a day along with flossing will help in removing any sugar or bacteria that has gathered on your teeth or gums, or even in between (the area called the ‘sulcus’). If vegetables aren’t always a viable source of alkalinity (we’re all fighting to get those 5 servings a day), there are a few alternatives to help further the cause when cleaning your teeth.  The most well-known of them is sodium bicarbonate, commonly found in baking soda.  This is a popular alkaline that you can actually use in a makeshift mouth wash to counteract bacteria growth.

But, consider what you learned in that high school science classroom. Balancing pH levels is effectively the endgame here, and if we’re tipping the scales one way, we’ll need to tip it back the other way at some point.  Moderation is key, and we all want to live a healthy lifestyle.  This includes keeping our mouths and teeth as healthy as possible. Curbing those urges for the sweets and going the extra mile with the veggies will help you go a long way in maintaining good oral health.