The "Healthy" Drink That Could Be Ruining Your Teeth, Dentists Say


It seems like every day there's a new healthy drink trend to try, from kombucha to matcha to nut-based milks. And it's common to jump to a new beverage to replace one that's less healthy. For example, many people have given up soda and replaced it with seltzer. However, sometimes even that alternative can have negative effects if you're not careful. According to dentists, there's one "healthy" drink that could be doing damage to your teeth. Keep reading to learn which beverage dentists say can ruin your chompers, and to learn how to avoid serious damage. And to see when brushing your teeth can do more harm than good, check out This Is the Absolute Worst Time to Brush Your Teeth, Dentists Say.

Lemon water can damage your teeth.

Squeezing a lemon into a tall glass of H20 or mixing some lemon juice into hot water is a good healthy hack to add a little flavor to your hydration. However, dentists warn that citrus water of any kind—orange, grapefruit, lime, or lemon juice—can harm your teeth by eroding your enamel.

"Erosion is the loss of tooth enamel, caused most commonly by acid attack. When the enamel is worn away, it exposes the underlying dentin—which is yellower in color than enamel—and this may cause you to experience tooth sensitivity," explain the experts at Ethos Orthodontics in Australia. "Acidic foods and drinks can cause enamel erosion. As your enamel erodes, it becomes thinner, and this allows the yellower dentine that lies below the enamel to be more visible through the enamel." This may cause your teeth to appear indented and more yellow and feel a bit more coarse against your tongue.

According to Watts Family Dental in Overland Park, Kansas, weakened enamel is one of the leading causes of tooth sensitivity and can put you at higher risk for cavities and other dental damage. Lemon juice's acid content is higher than many of the drinks we often associate with dental damage including, soda, wine, coffee, and tea, Watts Family Dental points out.

And for more on the importance of oral hygiene, This Is What Happens If You Don't Brush Your Teeth for a Day, Study Shows

There are a handful of things you can do to limit the damage.

Lemon water is delicious and good for you, so you shouldn't have to give it up on account of your teeth. To help mitigate damage, the dentist's office of Cusumano & Stuver in Arlington, Virginia, suggests you brush your teeth before drinking lemon water; use juice from a fresh lemon rather than concentrated, commercial juices; drink through a straw; and rinse your mouth with regular water after drinking.

And for more on how to keep your teeth healthy, check out If You Only Brush Your Teeth Once a Day, This Is When You Should Do It.

Hot lemon water is worse for your teeth than cold.
Frannyanne / Shutterstock

While hot water with lemon may be best for a scratchy throat, Ethos Orthodontics notes that "the rate of chemical reactions increases with temperature and therefore erosion will be more severe at higher temperatures." So consider drinking cold lemon water instead of hot.

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Don't brush your teeth right after drinking lemon water.

Brushing your teeth before drinking lemon water is helpful, but doing so after could make the situation worse.

"Once your enamel has been weakened by acidic substances like lemon juice, it needs time to recover," explain the pros at Luminous Dentistry in Australia. "This means you should wait at least 30 minutes after drinking or eating acidic drink or food to prevent brushing your enamel away accidentally."

And for more ways to keep your mouth healthy, This Is How Often You Should Really Change Your Toothbrush, Dentists Say.