In a great tale of opposites, lemon juice can be both acidic and basic, or alkaline. Read on to find out why people are talking about this, and what it means for your oral and overall health.
What is pH and why does it matter?
Drinking lemon juice (usually diluted in a glass of water or added to a cup of tea) is a beloved health tonic among fans of natural medicine. Potential benefits include lower cholesterol, lower inflammation in the body, and increased metabolism and energy. Lemon also contains high levels of antioxidants and vitamin C that boost your immune system.
On a scale from 0-14, a pH of 7 is neutral (pure water) while numbers below 7 are acidic (unhealthy), and above 7 are basic or alkaline (healthy). Believers in holistic health blame many ailments on the body’s pH being too low or too acidic. Increasing your body’s pH is called “alkalizing.”
Lemon juice in its natural state is acidic with a pH of about 2, but once metabolized it actually becomes alkaline with a pH well above 7. So, outside the body, anyone can see that lemon juice is very acidic. However, once fully digested, its effect is proven to be alkalizing with many health benefits. So how then, does lemon juice or a daily glass of lemon water effect the health of your mouth and teeth?
Acidity & oral health
The bottom line here is that any time you encounter lemon juice, it’s likely to be in its acidic state. Lemons contain citric acid, which is corrosive and damaging to tooth enamel. It’s not until lemon juice has been fully digested and metabolized that it becomes alkaline. So, it’s important to ingest lemon juice sparingly, assuming the acid can and will eventually affect your tooth enamel.
Signs your enamel is damaged:
Discoloration – The white enamel may wear out and look yellow because of exposed dentin.
Transparency – Clearness in enamel means it’s not as strong.
Sensitivity – Enamel protects the dentin and deeper layers, when it is damaged, your teeth will be sensitive to hot and cold.
When it comes to deciding between lemon water and plain water, use your best judgement. A glass of lemon juice diluted in water is certainly not as damaging as sucking juice straight from a lemon wedge. (Now, if you added a load of sugar to that lemon water to make lemonade, you have a new and different problem for dental health!)
If you’d like to make a refreshing glass of lemon water part of your daily routine, give it a try! You may notice some of the many health benefits and alkalizing effects for your overall health. We do suggest you wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth so as not to agitate your enamel even more with both the brushing motion and acid present in your mouth. Ingesting lemon juice is not recommended if you have acid indigestion or mouth ulcers.
Always consult with your Gwinn dentist for more personalized support in all things health and wellness. For more information, or to get a check up on the current state of your enamel, call Dr. Buck at Northern Trails Dental Care to make an appointment.