Starting your day with a glass of lemon water is a trendy topic in the health and wellness world nowadays. Health gurus recommend drinking lemon water as a way to increase your metabolism in the morning, flush out toxins, boost the immune system and improve digestion. But as healthy as it may be for cleaning your systems, is it bad for your teeth? Below we go into more detail as to why lemon water may be hurting your teeth, and what you can do to repair any damage that has been done and to prevent it in the future.
Lemons and the Health of Your Teeth
Even though lemon water has many health benefits, and is way better for you than soda or any other flavored drink, it can damage your teeth and make them weaker. All citrus fruits, including lemons, damage teeth due to their acidity. Lemons especially contain high amounts of citric acid that can quickly wear away at the enamel on your teeth. And as you may have heard from your dentist, enamel is important to protect because it is hard to grow back and can even be impossible to repair if it has been severely eroded away.
What is Enamel?
Enamel is the hard substance found on the outside of our teeth and is the part of the tooth that is visible outside of the gums. Enamel is considered to be the hardest substance in the human body, even harder than bones. Enamel is translucent, however, and it is a substance called dentin that gives our teeth their color, whether that be white, yellow, or greyish.
What Does Enamel Do?
Enamel protects your teeth from all the things we do on a daily basis, like chew, bite, grind, and crunch. Enamel also protects teeth from hot and cold temperatures. While it is a hard substance, it can crack and chip. You may not see the damage done to your enamel, but you may feel a painful sensation when you take a swig of hot coffee or a spoonful of ice cream. Once enamel is worn away, it is gone forever; your body doesn’t produce more of it.
What Causes Enamel to Erode?
Enamel can get worn away from the consumption of certain foods, and aggravating activities, like drinking beverages high in phosphoric and citric acid, having dry mouth or reduced saliva production, eating a diet high in sugar and starches, having acid reflux, having gastrointestinal problems, being on certain medications, and more.
The Signs and Symptoms of Enamel Erosion
- Discoloration of the teeth. Once enamel wears away, the teeth may get a yellowish tint to them because the dentin is now showing through.
- Transparent edges. When enamel is worn away, the outsides of the teeth will look like you can see through them.
- Temperature sensitivities. If you drink something hot or eat something cold and you feel a shot of pain on your teeth, that’s a sign that your protective coating of enamel has worn away.
How Can You Reduce the Effects of Lemon Water and Prevent Damage?
You don’t have to stop drinking lemon water altogether because it is healthy. Instead, you can follow these tips to help prevent it from damaging your teeth.
- Drink cold lemon water. Drinking your lemon water cold instead of warm will help reduce the amount of available acid that is able to touch your teeth.
- Wait to brush your teeth. Counter to what many might believe, it is best to wait a little bit to brush your teeth right after drinking lemon water to avoid the damage done. When the citric acid is fresh on your teeth and you immediately brush them, you are escalating the damage of the citric acid by adding aggravation to it.
- Drink it with a straw. One of the best ways to prevent lemon water from damaging your teeth is to drink it with a straw and avoid it touching your teeth altogether.
- Consider lemon essential oil as an alternative. If you love the taste of lemon water and want the health benefits, you can achieve the same results by adding a few drops of lemon essential oil to your water. The oil is made from the peel of the lemon, not the fruit, and doesn’t contain the same amount of citric acid.
If you want additional tips on how to protect your teeth and keep them healthy, contact the professionals at Infinite Dental Wellness and schedule an appointment to see them for a basic cleaning. They can tell you whether you’re teeth have damaged enamel and what you can do to prevent future wear and tear.