As the old adage goes, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” However, the tiny bit they left out was using a straw to drink the lemonade after you make it. Lemon is great and it is one of the best sources of Vitamin C and antioxidants. Lots of people enrolling in fitness courses and weight loss diets love some lemon juice because of its myriad of benefits.

However, constant exposure to lemon juice (and juices from other citrus fruits like lime) can make your teeth sensitive if they come in direct contact with your teeth. Perhaps, not sudden sensitivity, but over a period of time the constant interaction of lemon juice to the teeth causes damage to the outer layer of the teeth which we term “enamel.” Enamel is known to be the hardest tissue in the human body and that is what we perceive to be “white” when someone smiles at us. Lemon juice has a pH of about 2 to 2.6 and is extremely acidic. For reference, car battery acid has a pH of about 1 so you can see how this may affect your teeth (The lower the figure, the higher the acidity).


Other drinks and substances that are highly acidic include carbonated drinks, wines, sports drinks, energy drinks, and vinegar. The critical pH for your teeth can vary due to the mineral content in the mouth, but it is said to average around 5.5. Consequently, anything below this pH has the ability to dissolve that tough shell in our mouths 9 (Enamel). Loss of enamel can then lead to sensitivity in your teeth as the underneath layer of tooth structure, called dentine, becomes exposed.


I have encountered a lot of such cases at the dental clinic. Most of them present with a lot of wear on the inner surfaces of their front teeth due to the constant damage when any acidic medium comes in contact with their teeth. And for some strange reason, the major culprits are the females in their 20s and early 30s. The excessive urge to lose weight and keep that slender look also causes some of these ladies to indulge in a serious eating disorder termed “Bulimia” where they binge eat, followed by self-induced vomiting/purging in order to avoid weight gain. In the process, the teeth are subjected to continual exposure to acid from the stomach, causing severe erosion of their teeth.


Constant intake of lemon juice(without a straw) coupled with self-induced vomiting ultimately leads to extreme sensitivity and in some cases, chipped teeth. This type of sensitivity gives that funny chilly feeling to the teeth whenever you take in cold/not too cold water. This is because dentine, which is a substructure that the tooth enamel sits on because exposed due to the thin enamel left so just about anything you eat or drink will lead to sensitivity or pain.


Next time you prepare a glass of lemon juice, kindly use a straw to drink it. This will avoid direct contact with the teeth and the juice goes straight into your throat. Do not forget to swish your mouth and swallow afterward with a glass of water.

Do not brush immediately after drinking something low in pH such as lemon juice; Holding off brushing for about 30minutes to 1 hour after drinking an acidic beverage such as lemon juice will prevent the mechanical force of a toothbrush circulating the acid against the teeth which would add to the erosion effects.


Dentistry is not expensive. Negligence is.



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