A popular trend for many people is drinking water with fresh squeezed lemon either in the morning or sipping it all day. Unfortunately, these diets and trends for ‘detox-ing’ aren’t supported by science and have led to an unfortunate rise in enamel erosion. The major positive is that drinking water (with or without lemons) keeps you hydrated but otherwise lemon in water doesn’t improve digestion, boost absorption of nutrients, nor does it really ‘detox’ your body.
Acidity in lemons reduces the surface hardness of tooth enamel and can cause erosion. If you brush your teeth soon after consuming the drink, the enamel is still soft and can easily erode. This enamel can never be replaced despite what the toothpaste commercials may purport. When it’s worn away, it exposes the softer underlying dentin (making the teeth look more yellow) and can cause sensitivity and cavities.
Minimize the risk of enamel erosion from acidic drinks:
- Limit the frequency of acidic beverages throughout the day.
- Try to limit acidic drinks to meal times only, to give the mouth a chance to restore to its optimal pH level
- Drink water frequently during the day to help wash away acid
- Don’t brush your teeth for at least half an hour to an hour after the drink
- Rinse your mouth out with water or eat something like cheese to neutralize the acidity
- Brush your teeth gently (don’t scrub hard)
- Use a straw to limit the drink’s contact with the teeth
- Chew sugar-free gum (this stimulates saliva which helps to neutralize the acidity)
Here’s a quick article about the medical side of the lemon water detox debate.