Your mouth is a busy place. We’re here to help you understand a little about what’s happening behind the scenes – from saliva production to mouth acidity. The funny part about oral health is that we often don’t think about it until something goes wrong. Once pain or discomfort strikes, fixing your orthodontic or dental issue immediately becomes the top priority.

But what about the periods in between oral emergencies? Why do you randomly develop canker sores? What causes gum sensitivity? Does keeping your tongue clean really matter?

Our hope is that by the time you’re finished reading this article you’ll have a better sense of just how much occurs on “autopilot,” and how you can give your mouth the best shot at staying clean, healthy, and comfortable for a lifetime.


Saliva – the underappreciated miracle worker.

Sure, we usually just call it “drool.” It’s also what we think of when we hear the phrase “mouthwatering.” In reality, though, saliva is absolutely critical for keeping your mouth in good condition and helping you eat without a lot of difficulty.

Here are just a few of the important jobs your saliva is doing while you’re thinking about how funny the phrase “mouthwatering” really is:

  • Saliva coats your teeth to help prevent bacterial buildup.
  • It lubricates your mouth to assist in easier chewing and swallowing, plus it offers enhanced tasting abilities. 
  • Saliva contains an essential enzyme called amylase, which breaks down specific foods and significantly aids in the digestive process.
  • After eating, your mouth contains a higher amount of acidic residue. Saliva cleans this residue from your teeth, which protects against tooth decay.

Also, did you know that saliva is 98% water? It’s produced by salivary glands that are located all throughout your mouth, and the average person produces 2-4 pints of saliva every single day. Cheers!



Hold your tongue. Well, maybe give it a hug instead.

You may not feel “silver-tongued,” but that pink mushy muscle is actually invaluable for everything from proper speech to basic eating mechanisms. 

Below are some of the ways your tongue contributes to oral health and full-body wellness.

  • The tongue obviously helps move food to the right areas of your mouth (especially during swallowing), but it also clears food particles away from your teeth and encourages saliva distribution. 
  • Your tongue can be an indicator of other, more serious health issues. Doctors will often examine the tongue for signs of discoloration, swelling, and other important signals. 
  • Though it’s not health-related, your tongue is essential for proper tasting functions and detection of food consistency and texture. 

By keeping your tongue clean with regular brushing and rinsing, you’ll enhance your tasting abilities and reduce bacterial levels throughout your entire mouth


Is pH level important? “psH,” let’s find out.

If you’ve never thought about the pH level of your saliva, don’t worry. Most people are completely unaware that they should pay attention to the levels of acidity in their mouths. Isn’t acidity something that only matters when we’re talking about cooking or batteries?

There are some really good reasons to keep your mouth’s pH levels in mind and take proactive steps to achieve balance whenever possible.

  • You can reduce tooth erosion and enamel wear by maintaining healthy pH levels.
  • Help prevent canker sores by avoiding high consumption of acidic foods.
  • Reduce tooth and gum sensitivity.
  • Chronic bad breath is a common symptom of unbalanced pH levels. 

The typical pH level of saliva is around 7.0, and you can directly affect the pH balance in your mouth by adjusting the foods and beverages you consume throughout the day. Obviously, foods that are high in acid (e.g., citrus, coffee, tomatoes, etc.) will create a more acidic environment and alkaline foods (e.g., vegetables, nuts, beans, etc.) help counteract these effects. 


Keep an Eye on Oral Health

Unfortunately, bad things are often happening in your mouth as well – even if you don’t notice. Teeth don’t make noise when they move, and even subconscious bad habits can lead to unnecessary wear and tear starting at a young age. 

Most orthodontists (including us) recommend scheduling regular checkups starting at age 7. Though treatments may not necessarily be recommended at this age, it’s the perfect time to spot problems and plan for the right intervention before complications worsen. 

Dr. Oppenhuizen share his thoughts on childhood orthodontic evaluations in the video below:



Why Wait?

We offer in-person and virtual options for getting started on your journey to better oral health. It’s truly as easy at 1-2-3, or simply calling to schedule your appointment. During the first consultation, we’ll bring a friendly, no-pressure approach to explaining the oral care concerns that matter most to you.

Dr. O’s office is incredibly different in all the best ways from our previous orthodontic experience at another doctor’s practice. From the treatment plan, financial breakdown, beyond fair charges, and super clear explanation of every step our daughter is facing – we could not be more pleased! Dr. O has our daughter’s best in mind and his staff follow that lead. Realistic plan, realistic expectations. Absolutely would recommend to every family facing orthodontics – especially for multiple kids in one family!”

Todd & Sara Riemersma

Learn more by giving our office a call (616-392-1435), or start with your free consultation online by snapping and sharing a few pictures with us. Dr. O will look them over, and then follow up with you.