Lemon juice and your teeth

It is very common for people to start on detox programs, especially at the start of spring. The longer days and warmer weather make us want to feel lighter and brighter, inside and out.

Before you leap into a ‘spring clean’ for your body, there are some important facts to be aware of. . .

Lemon juice in warm water is often promoted as a great way to detox the body and ‘kick start’ the metabolism at this time of year. It is also said that lemon juice ‘alkalises’ the body.

Perhaps this is true, but lemon juice is very acidic when it is first consumed,

and very damaging to tooth enamel.

For people who are interested in scientific detail, the pH of lemon juice is between 2 and 3, which is strongly acidic. For the sake of comparison, car battery acid has a pH of 1. Water (which is neutral) has a pH of 7. Adding water to your juice will make it less acidic, but it is still acidic enough to do harm.

The effects of consuming lemon juice in water can be serious. They include:

  • Tooth sensitivity,

  • Partial to complete loss of tooth enamel,

  • Darkening of tooth colour as the enamel thins,

  • Damage at the edges of fillings and crowns.

Why does this happen?

  • Teeth are made of calcium-based minerals. They are very susceptible to erosion by acids.

  • Lemons contain citric and ascorbic acids – they are the hardest acids for saliva to protect us from.

  • Teeth are most vulnerable in the morning when our mouth is driest (has the least saliva).

When lemon juice in water has been consumed as part of a daily ritual for years, the damage can be very severe. I have seen all of the enamel eroded from teeth. Once tooth enamel is lost it creates a very difficult problem to repair and restore.

The simplest way to prevent this problem is to avoid lemon juice in water altogether.

If you still want to consume lemon juice in water consider the following:

  • Do not do this first thing in the morning. Drink plain water when you first get up and allow your saliva glands wake up before you drink the juice.

  • Use a straw and be careful to keep the juice off your teeth.

  • Drink plain water afterwards.

  • DO NOT brush your teeth straight away. Wait at least 20 minutes before brushing to let the tooth surfaces recover.

  • Reduce the number of days you drink lemon juice. Give your teeth a break.

Detoxes are a great way to revitalise your body. . .

. . . But everything you do for your health must take your whole body into consideration – and that includes the health of your teeth and mouth.
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