lemon water on yellow background

Some people drink lemon water for their skin health, to improve digestion, or even to help them lose weight. Others like it because it just tastes better with their lunch when they want to avoid ordering a soda or sweet tea. But is lemon water bad for your teeth? After all, lemon juice IS acidic and DIY whitening trends like rubbing lemon on your teeth is horrible for your tooth enamel. 

Yes, we know that lemons are bad for your teeth if you’re biting straight into them over and over or suck on them all the time. But is lemon water just as bad for your smile?

Is Water With Lemon Bad For Your Teeth? 

Here’s what health benefits we know about lemon water being GOOD for your teeth:

  • It can boost saliva production, which is great if you have dry mouth (xerostomia).
  • If you have a hard time drinking plain water, it can help improve your hydration.
  • Lemon is naturally antiseptic, so it might actually help with some of the bad bacteria in your mouth.

But don’t start guzzling it down. Everything in moderation. Because just how bad is lemon water for your teeth? 

Lemons (and possibly lemon water):

  • Will can interfere with orthodontic appliances, potentially making your brackets fall off.
  • Alter your oral hygiene routine. You shouldn’t brush your teeth right after eating lemon or drinking lemon water, since it will scrub the acids all over your teeth even more.
  • Are acidic enough to erode your tooth enamel, making teeth more sensitive, yellow, and prone to decay. 

Lemon Acidity Can Damage Tooth Enamel

Lemon juice has a pH of around 2, making it tens of thousands of times more acidic than your regular glass of water (which is between 6.5-8.5.) But lemon water is estimated to be about a 3. [1]

Scientists know that tooth enamel can begin to erode when the pH is at or below 5.5. If you have receding gums and exposed tooth roots, tooth erosion can start at just 6.7 on a pH scale. For reference purposes, Coke is about 2.6 and Gatorade is about 2.9.

Can I Still Drink Lemon Water?

Yes, you can. Acidic beverages like lemon water is less damaging to your teeth than straight-up lemons or lemon juice. Chances are that if you drink lemon water, it’s not all day every day. Drinking it now and then is fine, but there are still some steps to take to help reduce the acid erosion to your teeth. That goes for any fruit juices aswell.[2]

Your dentist can spot acid erosion by looking at the pointed “cusps” on your molars and evaluating your front teeth during exams. The enamel may seem more yellow than normal, or there could be hollowed out areas of erosion on the outermost layers of your teeth; we frequently see this anomaly in people who have unmanaged acid reflux disease or eating disorders. If you start to show symptoms of enamel erosion, it’s time to cut yourself off from lemon water (or at least seriously cut back on it.)

How To Protect Your Tooth Enamel

First, plan to drink all of the lemon water in one sitting, like with a meal. Don’t sip on it all afternoon every day. The longer the exposure time you have to lemon water, the more erosion and damage you’ll see on your teeth.  Also drink cold lemon, hot lemon water just speeds up the erosion process.

Second, drink lemon water with a straw to prevent how long the acidic liquid comes into contact with your smile. This tip works with other drinks too, like if you’re planning to indulge in a soda once in a while. It doesn’t totally prevent acid contact, but it does reduce it. [3]

Third, make sure you’re drinking water with a fresh wedge of lemon in it, rather than using a flavored concentrate or juice. The latter are more likely to have sweeteners, which kick the cariogenic (that’s dental verbiage for “cavity-causing”) factors up a bit. 

Fourth, immediately rinse your mouth out with water right after your meal. This will help rinse away any acids floating around inside your mouth. 

Fifth, make sure you’re brushing with a fluoride toothpaste later in the day to help remineralize weak areas of enamel. 

And finally, chew sugar-free gum after drinking lemon water. Chewing gum increase salivation which neutralizes the ph in your mouth.

Important Note: Always wait at least two hours after drinking lemon water before you brush your teeth. Brushing right after eating or drinking anything acidic, or throwing up for that matter, will just cause further enamel erosion. 

Can Tooth Enamel Grow Back? 

No, tooth enamel doesn’t grow back. Since acidic foods like lemons can wear through and erode your tooth structures, it’s important to use fluoride daily to remineralize weak areas before physical erosion occurs or worsens. [4]

Is a Glass of Lemon Water Too Acidic?

Is lemon water bad for your teeth? Yes, if you’re drinking it all day every day. But just like soda or sports drinks, you can enjoy it in moderation, use a straw, and take steps to prevent damage to your smile in the meantime. 

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