Lemon water helps with weight loss, detoxification, digestion, it’s an excellent source of Vitamin C, boosts immunity, provides antioxidants, BUT, it’s bad for your teeth.
In recent years, the popularity of lemon water has drastically increased, perhaps due to the rumours floating around social media which state that lemon water aids in weight loss and the benefits of lemon water detox. Other reasons may be that lemon water helps with digestion, lemon water is less boring than plain water, and lemon water is simply a better alternative to drinking Coke, sugary juices, or alcohol.
All of the above are valid reasons for you to drink lemon water every day. Thus, this article isn’t going to advise you to stop drinking it altogether, rather give you tips on how you can incorporate lemon in your diet without damaging your pearly white teeth.
To Begin, What is Tooth Erosion?
Tooth erosion is the loss of tooth structure (enamel and dentin), commonly caused by acidic food or drinks. To measure acidity, scientists use a scale called the ‘pH‘ scale. When the pH falls below 5.5, it causes tooth erosion. In simpler terms, acidic drinks, such as lemon water have a pH of 3, therefore it will dissolve away your tooth, including the enamel and dentin layers over time.
Patients often ask, “Is there anything I can do to grow that protective layer of enamel back?” and the answer is, NO, enamel cannot be “grown back”. So you have to protect what you have for as long as possible if you want to avoid sensitivity and yellow teeth.
Negative Impacts of Lemon Water on Teeth
Lemon is an extremely acidic/erosive fruit, thus, it is bad for your teeth. Regularly drinking lemon water will lead to:
1) Tooth Sensitivity – When your teeth are constantly exposed to acidic lemon water, the outer protective layer of your teeth (enamel) will slowly dissolve away, leaving behind a more sensitive layer called ‘dentin’. Exposed dentin can sometimes cause sensitivity, making temperature changes in your mouth extremely uncomfortable and ruin your overall eating experience.
2) Tooth Discoloration – The outer enamel layer which gives teeth their whitish appearance will dissolve away due to the acidity from the lemon water. Once the white layer of the tooth dissolves away, it will expose a more yellowy layer called ‘dentin’ giving people the illusion that their teeth have become “more yellow” or “stained” over time. Unfortunately, once the enamel layer dissolves away, it’s extremely difficult to whiten the yellow layer called dentin. No amount of toothbrushing, whitening toothpaste or whitening gels will help you get your white teeth back. To whiten your teeth naturally, click here to read the blog post by Dr. Sanya.
3) Chipping of Teeth – The edges of teeth are mostly made up of enamel, and once the enamel starts dissolving away due to acid, it can make your teeth extremely fragile. You’ll notice chipping and/or fracturing of the edges of your teeth, which becomes very costly to fix.
4) Failed Dental Fillings – If you have tooth-coloured fillings (composite resin) then regularly drinking lemon water can have a negative impact on the marginal integrity of those fillings. In simple terms, highly acidic drinks will decrease your fillings’ longevity, by creating voids in and around your fillings. Thus you will find yourself having to replace your fillings more frequently than normal, which can become a costly expense.
How to Drink Lemon Water WITHOUT Damaging Your Teeth?
- Use a STRAW to drink lemon water. The best way to avoid tooth erosion is to prevent acid from touching your teeth altogether by using a straw. Using a straw will give you the best of both worlds – all the health benefits of lemon water and minimal tooth damage to your teeth.
- Do NOT brush your teeth immediately after drinking lemon water. After your teeth have touched acidic lemon water, the teeth will become less resistant to wear. In other words, the white enamel layer will become ‘softer’ after drinking lemon water, thus, your teeth will be prone to damage during toothbrushing. It’s best to wait an hour before brushing your teeth after having lemon water. To read more about which toothbrush is best for you, click here.
- RINSE your mouth with PLAIN WATER after having lemon water. Neutralize the oral environment after the acid attack (lemon water). Plain water will help balance out the acidity in your mouth.
- Try drinking COLD lemon water. The rate of chemical reactions increases as the temperature rises. Therefore, tooth erosion will be more severe for warm/hot lemon water versus cold lemon water.
- Use 1-2 drops of LEMON ESSENTIAL OIL instead of LEMON JUICE for your mix – If your goal isn’t to lose weight using lemon water, but you want to make plain water more exciting then try using essential oils. The oil is made from the lemon peel, not the fruit, making it less acidic & healthier for your teeth.
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2) Tahmassebi JF, Duggal MS, Malik-Kotru G, Curzon MEJ. Soft drinks and dental health: a review of the literature. J Dent. 2005;36:1–10.
3) Maganur, P., Satish, V., Prabhakar, A., & Namineni, S. (2015). Effect of Soft Drinks and Fresh Fruit Juice on Surface Roughness of Commonly used Restorative Materials. International Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry, 8(1), 1–5. http://doi.org/10.5005/jp-journals-10005-1274