Is warm water with lemon bad for teeth?

At SHDC, we are often asked by patients if drinking warm water with lemon or apple cider vinegar will erode the teeth in the long term… in short, not a bad idea, but be careful.

Benefits of warm lemon water

It is our belief that a mild acid like diluted apple cider vinegar or diluted lemon juice (both great for the gut biome) can be a good thing to incorporate into your morning routine… and the key word here is ‘diluted’.

When we drink warm lemon water, a message is sent to the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine), releasing secretin (a hormone) and preparing the stomach for digestion. It is best to drink this 20 minutes before eating, so this process has enough time to work efficiently, and the stomach acid is activated to prepare for the breakdown of food. In addition to preparing the digestive system benefits of warm lemon water include:

  • A rich source of vitamin C – an essential nutrient in protecting the body against immune system deficiencies
  • Lemons contain pectin fibre which is important for colon health and a powerful antibacterial
  • It helps to flush out toxins from the body (especially when consumed first thing in the morning)
  • Aids in the production of bile, helpful for fat digestion
  • Great source of citric acid, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium
  • It helps prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria
  • Can assist when you have the common cold
  • Reduces inflammation in joints and knees as it dissolves uric acid
  • Potassium content is nourishing to the brain and nerve cells
  • Strengthen the liver
  • It helps replenish mineral salts in the body after a strenuous workout

Warm water with lemon and your teeth

While warm lemon water has all of these amazing benefits, it can also lead to more alkaline saliva. Due to high alkaline mineral content, lemons can essentially balance body pH, leading to more alkaline saliva. More alkaline saliva means less erosion in the long term.

From a dental perspective, just a squeeze of lemon juice in a 250ml glass of warm water results in slightly lower pH but is nothing to be overly concerned about… provided it is diluted.

You can enjoy the benefits of your warm lemon drink and reduce the risk of damage to your teeth. Here are a few recommendations:

  • Mixing just a squeeze of lemon juice in 250ml of warm water will help to lessen the acidity.
  • Drinking lemon water through a straw can avoid the teeth being exposed to the lemon.
  • After drinking the acidic lemon water, rinse your mouth with water straight away. This removes any acid that may remain on the tooth surface and reduces the acidity of the oral saliva.

We recommend avoiding brushing teeth within 30 minutes of drinking to avoid abrasion on softened enamel, as saliva and water can help remineralise teeth over that time.