Why drinking a supposedly healthy morning cup of hot water with lemon is terrible for your teeth

Drinking hot water and lemon, and lemon-infused water, can actually undermine your efforts to be healthy

It IS the morning ritual of millions of people, including Beyonc? and Jennifer Aniston: starting the day with a glass of hot water and lemon.

They do it in the belief that it is ‘good’ for the liver and stimulates digestion. Many also drink water flavored with lemon and other fruits throughout the day.

But not only is there little or no medical evidence to support these ideas, but drinking hot water and lemon and lemon-infused water can actually undermine your efforts to be healthy.

“Hot water and lemon have been repeatedly falsely marketed as a panacea for multiple health problems,” says dentist Hannah Woolnough, a spokesperson for the British Dental Association. “But what’s so alarming is the damage this habit can do to your teeth ? which in many cases is permanent and can’t be reversed.”

Dentist Nilesh Parmar, who runs Parmar Dental in Essex, agrees: ‘I know so many patients who drink water and lemon and I really wish they wouldn’t. They do it in the mistaken belief that they are choosing a healthy option because that is what they hear.’

Drinking hot water and lemon, and lemon-infused water, can actually undermine your efforts to be healthy

And like the other dentists Good Health spoke to, Nilesh Parmar suspects it’s this fashion for hot water and lemon (or sipping fruit-based drinks), rather than fizzy drinks, that’s causing the increase in tooth decay they’re experiencing. see now.

But as well as being harmful to the teeth, there’s nothing to support the idea that drinking hot water and lemon will “cleanse” or “detoxify” the liver, as claimed, says Professor David Lloyd, a liver surgeon at Leicester Royal Infirmary.

“In order to ‘detoxify’ the liver – as the expression incorrectly reads – or rather to heal damage to the liver, you have to stop doing the things that make it work so hard and cause problems in the first place, such as drinking alcohol or taking drugs [unless needed to treat health problems].

‘That, together with drinking about two liters of water a day, keeps the liver healthy. You can’t achieve this with a glass of hot water and lemon. Moreover, it is the liver’s job to detoxify, there is no such thing as ‘detoxifying’ the liver itself.’

Evidence is equally sparse to support the use of hot water and lemon as a digestive aid, says Dr Steven Mann, gastroenterologist consultant at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.

He roundly rejects the idea of ??some “natural health experts” that hot water and lemon stimulate the gastric juices and help move things along (by stimulating the wave-like muscle contractions known as peristalsis).

“There is no evidence for additional gastric secretions or improved peristalsis,” he says, adding that lemons have no particular benefits over other plant foods.

“The only thing water and lemon are good for is replacing fluids, which are necessary to keep the body hydrated ? but that’s because of the water, not the lemon,” he says.

“In addition, people prone to reflux ? where acid and other stomach contents are brought back up the throat ? will find that lemon water exacerbates the problem because it’s acidic.”

Hot water and lemon may sound like a social media-inspired trend, but it first gained popularity in 1941 when a dietitian in the US named Stanley Burroughs created The Master Cleanser, a diet that included a “liquid cleanse” ? including water and lemons ? as a natural way to flush the body of toxins, pesticides, and other impurities.

However, the drink’s enduring popularity is partly because the lemon provides vitamin C ? needed to protect cells from damage, aid in wound healing, and maintain healthy blood vessels and cartilage; for some people, this gives it sound credentials.

But when it comes to teeth, hot water with added lemon is anything but healthy – not least because the highly acidic lemon juice can dissolve the hard protective enamel surface over time.

“The worn enamel can then open the door for bacteria that can cause cavities or infections,” adds Hannah Woolnough. “It also causes teeth to discolor by wearing away the enamel, which is white, to expose the dentin layer below, which is yellow.”

Damage to the enamel can also cause pain and tenderness, as it exposes nerve endings underneath.

Once the enamel has worn away, the only option is to treat the damage with some form of covering such as fillings, veneers, and crowns.

If the decay is so extensive that it reaches the dental pulp – the inner layer of the tooth – and especially if there is an infection, it can lead to a root canal or even removal of the tooth.

It’s the acid along with the heat from hot water and lemon that creates “the perfect storm to encourage erosion and lead to decay,” says Nilesh Parmar.

That’s because sour lemon provides a better environment for harmful bacteria to live in and these bacteria produce even more acid to decalcify the teeth.

“Hot water can exacerbate this effect by causing the enamel to expand and contract rapidly, further increasing the risk of enamel erosion leading to sensitivity, tooth decay and even tooth loss,” explains dentist Alan Clarke of Paste Dental in Belfast out.

Once the enamel has worn away, the only option is to treat the damage with some form of covering such as fillings, veneers, and crowns

Once the enamel has worn away, the only option is to treat the damage with some form of covering such as fillings, veneers, and crowns

Saliva can act as a buffer for the acid to some extent, not least because it contains a form of calcium that can reduce some of the damage caused by acid – essentially ‘remineralizing’ the enamel.

“But it can only do so much if there’s repeated and prolonged exposure,” says Alan Clarke.

Indeed, many people do not limit themselves to one warm water and lemon in the morning.

“The problem is that since it’s seen as a healthy drink, people also fill a water bottle with lemon wedges and sip it throughout the day,” says Nilesh Parmar.

“In doing so, however, they are constantly exposing their teeth to acidic water ? and it’s this prolonged exposure (i.e., the amount of time acid sits in the mouth and coats the teeth) that leads to the most damage.”

In fact, a 2018 study from King’s College London found that those who drank water with a slice of lemon or hot fruit-flavored tea between meals were more than 11 times more likely to have moderate or severe tooth erosion than those who didn’t.

The UK has significant problems when it comes to dental health. Nearly one in three adults has tooth decay – sipping on acidic drinks can make the situation worse.

If you really must drink water and lemon, minimize the harm by mixing the lemon with cold or lukewarm water instead [of hot water]says Alan Clarke, adding that it’s worth using a straw “to reduce contact between the acidic drink and your teeth, reducing the risk of enamel erosion.”

After drinking your drink, rinse your mouth with plain water right away, says Hannah Woolnough. This will flush the acid out of the mouth.

“Or rinse with fluoride mouthwash, as this hardens the enamel,” she says.

She also suggests chewing sugar-free gum after drinking lemon water: “This stimulates saliva flow, which will buffer the acid attack and move calcium ? through the saliva ? back into your mouth.”

Since hot water and lemon are often consumed in the morning, any damage to the teeth will be exacerbated if you brush them right after. That’s because exposure to acid temporarily softens the enamel and brushing can scrape away the protective surface.

“That’s why it’s best to leave at least an hour between drinking hot water with lemon and brushing,” says Alan Clarke.

“When you brush, make sure you use a good fluoride toothpaste to remineralize the enamel.”

Above all, remember that exposure to food acid can cause irreversible tooth damage, warns Nilesh Parmar.

‘Of course fruit contains acid, but there are other benefits to eating fresh fruit as it is needed as part of a healthy, balanced diet – this is a proven benefit. Although it is still better to have it during meals.

?There’s just no reason or need to add things like lemon to water. It has the potential to do too much damage.?