Hot Lemon Water and Enamel Erosion

Hot Lemon Water and Enamel Erosion

Here is a common dental question people ask me: 

I drink hot water with raw lemon every single morning, but I heard from a  dentist that it's terrible for the enamel. Is this true? Is there anything I can do to protect my teeth but still drink it? Does water temperature make a difference? 

Here's my answer:

Many health and fitness enthusiasts drink hot lemon water upon waking to cleanse the system, stimulate digestive enzymes and possibly even assist with weight loss.

What is erosion?  Erosion is the loss of tooth enamel, caused by acid attack. When the enamel is worn away, it exposes the underlying dentin (which is yellower in colour than enamel), which may lead to painful sensitivity.

Acidic foods and drinks can cause enamel erosion. Lemon juice is highly acidic (citric acid), so over time, routine consumption of lemon juice will erode your enamel.   Not only is erosion unsightly (it makes the teeth appear hollowed and yellowed), but as previously stated, it may also make your teeth sensitive to hot and cold food.

The temperature of your hot water does make a difference! Since the rate of chemical reactions increases with temperature, erosion will be more severe at higher temperatures.

I recommend diluting the lemon juice with a full 8 ounces of water to lessen the acidity.  You can further minimize risk by drinking the warm lemon juice through a straw (so it bypasses your teeth).  If you elect to use a straw, be careful not to burn your palate (always test the temperature of the water with your finger before using a straw).  After drinking the acidic lemon water, rinse your mouth with water immediately.  Another option is to chew sugar-free gum after drinking the lemon water: this helps you produce more saliva, which helps neutralize the acidity in your mouth. DO NOT brush your teeth until 60 minutes after drinking the lemon water.  Use a soft toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste (fluoride strengthens your teeth) and do not brush aggressively. Why?  Because acid leaves the enamel softened and more prone to erosion during brushing!

If you already have enamel erosion, then consult with your dentist.  Your dentist may recommend treatments such as resin bonding, veneers or sealants to protect your remaining tooth structure, restore aesthetics and/or minimize sensitivity.  Consider trying toothpastes that protect against enamel erosion and reduce tooth sensitivity.

Sincerely,

Dr. Sara Solomon

I even address this topic in the April 2013 issue of Oxygen Magazine! Be sure to get your copy today!

Oxygen Magazine - dental erosion and lemon water

Reference:

 

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Dr. Sara Solomon is the creator of the Fat Loss Fast System about Intermittent Fasting and Flexible Dieting. She has degrees from McGill University in dentistry (DMD) and physical therapy (B.Sc. PT). She is also a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, ACE personal trainer, NASM fitness nutrition specialist, Mad Dogg Spinning Instructor, Certified Level 2 Buddy Lee Jump Rope Trainer and Ambassador, a Team Bodybuilding.com and BSN athlete, and a retired PRO Fitness Model. Her passion is teaching others how to fuel and move well.

8 Comments

  1. Great article!! I would of never thought to not brush right after drinking lemon water. As a kid, I used to suck on lemons with salt and jacked my two front teeth up so bad that I had to get veneers as an adult. I don’t suck on lemons anymore, but I love using lemon like crazy in my food prep! Do we need to keep these same tips in mind too, such as having a lemon juice and olive oil dressing on a salad?

    Reply
  2. Hi, Dr. Sara Solomon. I think not only lemon juice but also any kind of acidic drink or food may cause of it. Thanks for sharing a great and informed article.

    Reply
    • you are correct. this article; however, was specifically addressing lemon water.

      Reply
  3. Would this also apply to apple cider vinegar? I’ve recently been drinking 2 Tblspns diluted in 8-10oz of cold water & knock it back quickly, but not sure how the acidity of ACV compares to lemons..? All the articles I’ve found online address drinking it straight or sipping on it throughout the day.

    Reply
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  5. Interesting article. Not a great lemon lover except maybe in tea, but doing all the steps above is more of a routine that I want to do everyday. I have enough other routines to deal with and don’t want to add another one despite the good things I read about lemon.

    Reply
  6. What would be a good amount of lemon juice to add to a tall glass of warm water? What I do is cut the peel away from half a lemon, cut into the lemon half, place in my large glass, pour half cold water and half boiling water, then squeeze the lemon slightly so the water is very lemony… I drink this all morning, topping up the water and squeezing the lemon a bit more each time, I do this until the water is no longer lemony, then I repeat with a fresh lemon half, throughout my work day I probably have 6-8 large glasses of water and one whole lemon squeezed into this water… I love to do this and my skin looks awesome, but I don’t want lovely skin but brown crumbling teeth D:

    Reply

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