Buffer capacity

Buffer capacity is the saliva ability to neutralize acids, salivary pH back to normal parameters after bacterial acidogenesis. After exposure to fermentable carbohydrate occur a series of reactions with decreasing pH, as it decreases, some salivary minerals and proteins are liberate to avoid the salivary pH drop. Increased salivary buffering minimizes the final products of the acidogenic bacteria. Magnesium and carbonate ions are adsorbed to the enamel crystals, and then they are dissolved and added to the oral environment. Even calcium and phosphate ions are available for remineralization when the pH begins to return to normal parameters.

If acid production continues after 30 to 45 minutes, the pH rises and minerals in ionic form incorporate into the tooth structure. At this time reverse the demineralization process (Monterde et al., 2001).

This salivary function is one of the best indicators of caries susceptibility because it reveals the host response. Patients with high buffering capacity are resistant to the caries process. The low capacity may indicate: decreased salivary flow, reduced host response to cariogenic agents, possible malnutrition or pregnancy (Larmas, 1992).

Buffer capacity might be determined quickly placing stimulated saliva using a pipette in the reactive strip of the Saliva Check®1 test and will be compared with the chart after 2 minutes; the final result was obtained by adding the scores of 3 reactive zones:

Green

Green/blue

Blue

Red/blue

4 points 3 points 2 points 1 point

Fig. 6. Buffering capacity (Saliva Check®).

Interpreting the result:

Very low Low

Normal/High

0 to 5 points 6 to 9 points 10 to 12 points

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