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Most people are now aware of the amazing health benefits of drinking lemon water, especially early in the morning.

Full of essential nutrients and vitamins, lemon water helps your body do just about everything better, from improving your digestion to giving your immune system a boost.

But there is one thing about lemon water you almost never hear about.

The One Bad Thing About Lemon Water

lemon water tooth enamel

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While it does have its benefits, lemon water can cause some trouble for those with sensitive teeth. Lemons are highly acidic, and this acid can erode the protective enamel on your teeth, Over time this can cause your teeth to become hollowed and yellow, as the underlying dentin becomes exposed.

Kathleen Bernardi, a Registered Dental Hygienist, outlines the 3 major signs of enamel erosion:

  • Tooth Discoloration – Enamel gives teeth their white appearance. Once it wears away, the teeth may have a yellow tint because the dentin, the substance underneath the enamel is showing.
  • Transparent Edges – If the edges of the teeth are transparent, this is a sign that the enamel is thin and not very strong.
  • Tooth Sensitivity – The protective enamel has been eroded and the inside of the tooth is more exposed to temperatures that make eating and drinking hot and cold things uncomfortable.

Dr. Sara Solomon states how drinking hot lemon water may also be detrimental to the health of your teeth.

“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.”

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Sugar is particularly bad for your teeth when you drink it in warm tea for the same reason.

You may think the health benefits make it worth it, but as far as your teeth are concerned, room temperature or slightly warm lemon water is definitely better than boiling hot.

The other thing to consider is if you’re brushing your teeth immediately after. If you wake up and drink lemon water, and then brush your teeth after, you’re making the problem worse.

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Because the acid in the lemon water softens your enamel, brushing your teeth immediately after speeds up the erosion, especially if you brush vigorously or with a hard-bristled brush. This is one instance where brushing your teeth is actually not good.

How To Prevent Acid Erosion

While there are many toothpastes that claim they are great at helping with ‘acid erosion’, the best approach is always going to be preventative. Here are 3 ways that Dr. Bernardi suggests drinking your lemon water:

  1. Don’t Sip: If you are going to drink lemon water have it all at once, do not sip on it throughout the day.
  2. Use a Straw: Try drinking it through a straw to avoid bathing all of your teeth in the citric acid.
  3. Never brush your teeth immediately after drinking lemon water: The citric acid softens the enamel and brushing them immediately after will wear the enamel more easily. Instead wait 30-60 minutes to brush, rinse with water immediately after drinking, and/or if possible, rinse with an alkaline substance such as baking soda water.

A final suggestion would be to mix up the kind of water you’re drinking. Cucumber water, for instance, has a variety of benefits without all the acid, as does mint.

The Bottom Line

For most people, drinking lemon water is not a problem, but for those who are already suffering from sensitive teeth, these are important guidelines to remember to better protect your teeth while still getting the benefits of lemon water in the morning. Enjoy and keep that smile bright and healthy!

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