How does lemon water affect teeth and dental health?

Lemon water is pretty simple – it’s basically plain water that’s been infused with fresh lemon juice and a few optional ice cubes – but there’s no denying that it can be extremely delicious in the summer (or after a sweaty workout) because it gives base water a flavor boost worth blowing away.

Many of us turn to lemon water as an effortless way to boost our hydration intake first thing in the morning or throughout the day. A little juice and a dash of zest can make drinking water so much more appealing, right? This is doubly true for those of us who find a standard tap glass to be a bit bland on its own and therefore struggle to maintain enough fluid to meet our body’s daily needs. In my humble opinion, it is quite difficult to find an excuse do not to drink water all day when you have a delicious ice cold pitcher of lemon water in the fridge calling your name.

What is the impact of lemon water on teeth, gums and general dental health?

1. Lemon water can stimulate saliva production and freshen breath

The main benefit of lemon water is both the simplest and also the most important. As mentioned, its appealing flavor (and lack of sugar or caffeine) can help with hydration, and our bodies cannot function at their best without adequate fluid intake, including the mouth. “Hydration is the key to good saliva production, and the most protective natural remedy against tooth decay is a well-hydrated mouth,” says a Beverly Hills-based dentist, Rhonda KalashoDDS and CEO of TruGlo Modern Dental Care. “And since lemon is acidic by nature, it has natural antiseptic qualities. This means it helps kill certain bacteria in the mouth, which naturally helps get rid of stench and freshens breath.”

2. The acidity of lemon water can soften your tooth enamel, which can lead to yellowing, cavities, and tooth and gum sensitivity.

However, according to Dr. Kalasho, there are also downsides to drinking lemon water when it comes to oral hygiene. “The acidity of lemon water can damage your teeth, gums and enamel in the long term unless you implement a few simple measures to reduce the damage and protect your teeth from erosion, decay or yellowing,” she says.

To be more specific, lemon water can soften your tooth enamel over time when consumed regularly. “That’s because anything acidic in your diet demineralizes your teeth, which causes the enamel to soften,” says the dentist. Sharon HuangDDS, MICOI and Founder of The Beautiful NYC. She says the same goes for other acidic foods and drinks: coffee, tomato-based sauces, wine, etc.

Once the enamel becomes too soft, Dr. Huang says it can cause your teeth to turn yellow, as well as increase your risk of developing cavities and experiencing tooth and gum sensitivity. “Drinking through a straw once you are done with your lemon water will help preserve the enamel of your pearly whites. cause your enamel to erode,” recommends Dr. Huang. “And then immediately rinse your mouth out with water when you’re done.”

3. The acidity of lemon water may increase your risk of tooth erosion, but that’s only in extreme cases

Studies have shown that highly acidic beverages can lead to tooth erosion, but that’s only in extreme cases. “Tooth enamel is made up of hydroxapetite, which is a crystal structure that can easily be broken down by an acid, and when the enamel is broken down, it becomes more porous, and therefore soft and brittle, which can lead to breakage. or erosion,” Dr. Kalasho said.

According to Dr. Huang, anything with a pH lower than five and a half can harm your oral health. “And lemon juice has a pH between two and three, which means it’s extremely acidic,” she says. “Unfortunately, you cannot reverse the damage, because the body cannot regenerate the enamel.”

How to Stop Lemon Water from Damaging Your Pearly Whites

All that said, if you drink lemon water on occasion, both dentists say that none of this information is a reason to lose sleep. This is more important for those who sip it all day or don’t dilute their drink enough.

“It’s possible, but very rare that you see holes or chips in your teeth while drinking lemon water,” says Dr. Kalasho. “The exception is if you drink barely diluted lemon water, i.e. high lemon juice to H2O ratio, extremely frequently. , sucking on lemons or brushing your teeth in lemon water all the time. Lemon directly on the teeth every day is much more harmful than lemon water.” That’s why Dr. Kalasho simply recommends mixing more water — “at least eight ounces,” she says — with less lemon juice to help counter any negative impact on your enamel.

Also, remember Dr. Huang’s advice about using a straw and rinsing your mouth with water after you’ve finished your glass of lemon-infused H2O to prevent the drink from softening the enamel. of your teeth.

However, while rinsing right after drinking is fine, Dr. Huang advises avoiding brushing your teeth. “You should wait at least 30 minutes after drinking lemon water before brushing your teeth to give your mouth enough time to produce a sufficient amount of saliva to counter the demineralization of your teeth,” says- she. Otherwise, the brushing motion and bristles of your toothbrush will be too abrasive for your teeth after exposure to lemon water. Dr. Huang also recommends not skimping on flossing and brushing twice a day to maintain ideal oral hygiene.

Finally, you can try using a water flosser, as they are excellent oral hygiene tools that clean food deposits on the teeth and help neutralize leftover acids, which may be stuck between the teeth or around them. gums. Using high-pressure water will be more effective, advises Dr. Huang.

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