A glass of warm lemon water in the morning has become all the rage lately. Some people drink it as part of a regimen to achieve a more alkaline diet along with green juice and huge salads. Although these seem like great ways to promote optimal health, they may be causing you harm in unexpected ways.
What is pH?
The measure of alkalinity versus acidity is referred to as pH. Fish tank keepers are likely quite familiar with the concept. The pH scale goes from 0 (most acidic) to 14 (most basic or alkaline) with 7 being neutral. Human blood functions best at a pH of 7.36 to 7.44. Health advocates believe that incorporating lemon water and green juicing into daily diets helps blood and other human body systems sustain maximum operating efficiency. They typically advocate80% foods that make the body more alkaline such as lemon water and 20% moderately acidic foods.
Acidic Foods Make the Body More Alkaline
Sounds weird right? An acidic food such as a lemon actually makes the body more basic or alkaline. Here’s how it works. A lemon is acidic before it’s ingested. After it’s been processed by the body it has an alkalizing effect. Too much acid-forming food can cause the human body to be out of balance, so the alkalizing effects of warm lemon water have become quite popular.
The Effects of Lemon Water on Your Teeth
Although warm lemon water, green juices and similar dietary choices may have a beneficial impact on your body, they’re also harmful to your teeth. Your teeth are formed with a hard coating called enamel. This coating protects your teeth from decay and sensitivity, but it can be eroded by over exposure to highly acidic foods, such as lemons. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finds lemons and limes to be the top two most acidic fruits.
In my dental practice, I’ve seen many patients with strong, healthy teeth alter their diet for increased systemic alkalinity suddenly develop tooth enamel issues. Fortunately, there are some ways to mitigate these effects.
Use a Straw
By drinking your lemon water or green juice through a straw, you’re able to experience the alkalinizing benefits while ensuring that the acidic nature of these beverages misses your teeth and protects the enamel.
If you’re not one for straws, eating cheese immediately after your lemon water or green juice raises the pH in your mouth and increases saliva production, which will protect your tooth enamel by neutralizing the acids.
Rinsing isn’t just something we ask you to do here at the dental office. You can minimize the effects of acidic fruits on your tooth enamel by rinsing your mouth immediately after consuming them and then waiting at least half an hour (30 minutes) before brushing your teeth. This gives you mouth and salivary glands time to return to their normal balance.
If you’re time constraints are such that you have to run out the door and can’t wait 30 minutes to brush after drinking your warm lemon water or green juice, you can also brush beforehand. If you do this, you should still rinse after finishing your beverage to ensure your tooth enamel is protected.
Keep your teeth and your body healthy with these tips and don’t forget to see your dentist at least twice a year.