‘I start the day by waking up at 6am and drinking hot water and lemon right away.’
That’s how all the health bloggers and beauty influencers say they live their lives. It’s the tip that’s been in every women’s and teen’s magazine we can remember. It’s the one thing we committed to in the hopes that it would turn us into adults with our sh*t together.
But it turns out that drinking hot water with lemon first thing in the morning is not that great of an idea. Damn it.
While a mug of hot water and lemon may help with digestion and hydration, it can wreak havoc on your teeth – especially when you down the drink first thing in the morning.
Dr Raha Sepehrara of Dental Suites Clinic said that her concern with a daily cup of hot water and lemon is that it could wear away at the enamel of the teeth, leading to increased sensitivity and a yellow tinge.
‘Tooth wear is caused by the acidity of the lemon which erodes the enamel of the teeth,’ Dr Raha explains. ‘Repetitive and frequent exposure to acidic drinks or foods can dissolve the enamel of the teeth, exposing the inner layer of the teeth called dentine, which is yellower than enamel and also very sensitive.
‘People who have tooth wear due to erosion can have teeth which appear more translucent (transparent) and yellow and are very sensitive to cold.’
Neither of which sound very good.
What makes things worse is that when we drink hot water and lemon in the morning, we tend to brush our teeth shortly afterwards. This may sound like a good idea, but brushing shortly after wearing away the enamel could dissolve the enamel even more, effectively scrubbing away at a layer of your teeth. Ouch.
Dr Raha recommends reducing the frequency of hot water and lemon consumption to avoid enamel erosion. So no more daily cups.
We reckon you’d feel just the same hydration and digestive benefits if you just drank a cup of water (no lemon) each morning. That’s an easy swap that will make you feel all healthy and sensible without damaging your teeth.
If you do have your heart set on drinking hot water and lemon, though, Dr Raha recommends you take some steps to take extra care of your teeth.
Never brush your teeth immediately after drinking hot water and lemon, as this will dissolve the enamel even more. You’ll need to leave your teeth for at least one or two hours between drinking hot water and lemon and brushing. Which may mean brushing your teeth at work, or doing your hair, making lunch, and tidying up before you finally get to have clean teeth. Make sure to use a fluoride toothpaste to remineralise the enamel.
It’s worth drinking your hot water and lemon through a straw to avoid contact with teeth, and make sure to drink it speedily rather than sipping away over a long period of time.
Immediately after drinking hot water and lemon it’s worth swishing some water around your mouth to clear out the acidity of that lemon.
‘If there is some damage already, it is important to stop this habit to prevent further damage,’ Dr Raha advises. ‘If there is noticeable enamel wear and sensitivity, teeth may need to be rebuilt by your dentist, by covering them with a tooth coloured filling material (composite bonding).
‘If the damage is considerable, more extensive treatment involving root canal treatment and crowns may be necessary.’
Ouch. That’s enough to put us off.
Green tea, anyone? Hold the lemon.