We hear more often about the health benefits of fresh lemon in hot water. It activates the metabolism and is good for the liver, as well as a daily dose of Vitamin C.
Lemon is delicious and I know people who have replaced drinking tea or coffee during the day time with a slice of lemon in water, myself included.
It got me wondering, are there any negative impacts to drinking lemon juice?
I called Dr. Chris Lang, from Glen Abbey Dental Office in Oakville Ontario, and my dentist for the past 25 years, to ask what it does to your teeth?
His first response might surprise you:
Drink a mug of warm water with lemon in the morning to boost vitamin C and anti-inflammatory properties. Follow with glass of plain warm water and swish. Hold off on brushing for at least 10 minutes.
- Lemon juice is citric acid. It’s highly acidic. Citric acid is a chelating agent.
- Enamel is a strong mineral, a crystal of calcium-phosphorous ions. Chelating pulls calcium out of the crystal. Erosion means there is thinning of the tooth enamel due to the citric acid.
- Everything has a pH. The critical pH for your mouth is 5.2. Below that will have a chelating effect.
On the root of your tooth is dentin, the sub structure that tooth enamel sits on. Exposed dentin has a pH of 6.7 (nearly neutral). Once the enamel is eroded, just about anything you eat or drink can erode exposed dentin. This will lead to sensitivity or pain from exposed root.
Adults who have a habit of grinding their teeth (normally at night due to stress), or have gum recession (when your dental hygienist calls out high numbers when doing measurements) means there is exposed dentin. They are more prone to changes in pH. This leads to a higher risk of dentin being eroded.
As with all things in life, there is a balance between boosting your metabolism and maintaining healthy teeth. Here are four ways Dr. Lang suggests to help protect your teeth:
- Do not replace tea/coffee with lemon water through out the day. It will lead to erosion or sensitive teeth.
- Hold off on brushing for at least 10 minutes after drinking an acidic beverage. The mechanical force of a toothbrush circulating the acid against the tooth will add to the erosion effects.
- Drinking through a straw can by-pass the teeth, literally.
- MI Paste, Pronamel, or Sensodyne have higher mineral content — Calcium Phosphorous. These products can help to protect your teeth.
Dr. Lang’s final words of advise:
Save money by looking after your teeth. Brush your teeth at least once every 12 hours and see your dentist regularly.