Nowadays, the internet – and all the usual social media apps – are awash with every imaginable kind of shortcut and life hack for doing just about anything you can think of, and one that’s been doing the rounds is using lemon juice as a home remedy for whitening teeth.
But while some hacks work and others are harmless yet ineffective, many are highly inadvisable because of the irreparable damage they can cause. So what about lemon juice on teeth? To answer this question, in this post, we examine how to whiten teeth with lemon.
If you want to learn about some other home remedies for whitening teeth that you might like to consider, you can also check out this video before reading on.
6 ways to whiten your teeth with lemon juice
Before we look at how advisable or effective it is to use lemon juice to whiten your teeth, let’s think about some of the kinds of things people online are suggesting you try.
1. Lemon juice and baking soda
According to the first technique, all you need to do is mix up a paste using baking soda and lemon juice. Baking soda is said to remove stains from your teeth, while the acidity in lemon also does the same.
Furthermore, lemon juice acts as a natural antibacterial agent too.
To do it, sprinkle some baking soda onto your toothbrush and then squeeze a few drops of lemon juice onto it.
Next, use your toothbrush to apply this to your teeth and then leave it for two minutes to do its work.
After this, simply rinse your mouth with water and repeat once a week.
2. Lemon juice and sea salt
With this method, you simply replace the baking soda in the previous recipe with sea salt and repeat the same procedure.
Just sprinkle a little sea salt on your toothbrush, squeeze on some lemon juice, apply to your teeth, leave for two minutes and then rinse.
3. Lemon juice and water
A mixture of lemon juice and water is said to be a natural teeth whitener, and it is also claimed to have antibacterial properties.
If you want to try, simply mix up a solution of one part water and one part lemon juice, dip your toothbrush in it and use it to brush your teeth as you would with regular toothpaste. Repeat once a week until you achieve the desired effect.
4. Lemon juice and water mouthwash
A similar idea is to mix up the same solution of lemon and water but then to use it as a mouthwash instead.
You can do this after regular brushing, and then after swilling this homemade mouthwash around your mouth, leave it for up to 10 minutes before rinsing to give it time to do its job.
5. Lemon juice, baking soda, sea salt and toothpaste
A supposedly more potent answer to whitening your teeth with lemon juice is to mix up some toothpaste, some lemon juice, some baking soda and some sea salt all together and then use this to brush your teeth as you would with toothpaste.
This option is said to be so powerful that you should only use it once a month, or you will end up damaging your teeth.
6. Lemon peel
A final, easy option is to use lemon peel instead of lemon juice.
Cut some peel from a lemon and use it to rub the teeth you want to whiten.
This treatment is said to yield subtle yet noticeable results almost immediately.
Reasons why you shouldn’t whiten your teeth with lemon or other home remedies
So we’ve covered some of the kinds of home teeth whitening methods involving lemon that are being shared online, but before you try them, you need to know two things.
The first is if they are effective.
And the second is whether they are safe for your teeth.
So let’s talk a bit about this now.
Is lemon effective?
The reason lemon might be useful as a teeth-whitening agent is due to its acid content, specifically the citric acid it contains.
Most people know that vinegar can be used to clean and disinfect a whole range of things due to its acetic acid content, and the citric acid in lemons works in the same way.
Citric acid is known to be an effective bleaching agent that can remove stains, and as it turns out, this includes removing stains from teeth.
Indeed, some scientific studies have backed this up, suggesting that treatments using home remedies such as lemons can be somewhat effective while at the same time being less harsh than treatments using chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide.
Is lemon safe?
So it appears that lemon juice may have at least some stain-removing and whitening properties, but just because something works, it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to use it.
This is important because while some life hacks are harmless, others certainly aren’t.
For example, if you try unblocking your sink with Coca-Cola and baking soda, the worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work – but when it comes to using lemon juice on your teeth, you could end up permanently damaging your teeth.
The potential problem with using lemon juice on your teeth is also related to the citric acid it contains.
Our teeth are covered in enamel, which helps our teeth retain their colour while also protecting the softer inner parts.
The problem with enamel is that once it’s gone, it won’t grow back – and using lemon juice can erode the enamel layer that protects your teeth.
If you drink something like orange or lemon juice, it exposes your teeth briefly to a certain amount of citric acid.
However, if you deliberately coat your teeth in citric acid and then leave it there for several minutes before washing it off, it has more time to start dissolving the all-important enamel coating.
And if you continue to do this over a period of time in an attempt to whiten your teeth, you will be exposing your teeth to higher levels of citric acid than is advisable.
So should you use lemon juice to Whiten Teeth?
We’ve seen that lemon juice does have some effectiveness in whitening teeth, and as the scientists in the study we quoted mentioned, lemon juice can be less damaging than some of the harsher treatments that are often used for teeth whitening.
This means that if you’re looking for something gentler on your teeth than, for example, a peroxide treatment, using lemon juice or lemon peel could be an option.
However, there’s a caveat – and that’s that lemon juice still contains citric acid, so if you do decide to try it, you need to be careful about what you’re doing.
Citric acid has a pH level of about 2.3, and other studies have shown that lemon juice causes among the highest levels of erosion of many common drinks (out of the drinks tested in the study, only Sprite and apple juice were worse).
Furthermore, when using lemon juice as a whitener, you don’t just drink it – with many of the techniques we described, you apply it to your teeth and then leave it there to act.
This is obviously worse for your teeth than just drinking it, so you’re putting yourself at a much higher risk of enamel loss.
So in short, if you decide to try some of these social media hacks, be aware of the dangers – and don’t overdo it.
The best ways to whiten teeth
When it comes to your teeth, it’s best not to take risks or shortcuts, and although some social media influencers might try to convince you that lemon juice is a tooth-whitening elixir, there’s no beating the tried and tested methods.
If you want to keep your pearly whites pearly white, stick to a proper dental health routine that includes brushing at least twice a day and flossing once a day – and book an appointment for dental cleaning twice a year.
At the same time, you might also consider giving up – or at least cutting down on – the kinds of foods and drinks that cause tooth staining. Some of the worst things for this include black coffee, red wine, tea and curry.
And of course, giving up cigarettes will also help a lot if you’re a smoker.
Then, if you still want to whiten your teeth further, ask your dentist for advice – and one thing’s for sure, they won’t recommend using lemon juice as a home remedy!
Lemon can work – but few dentists would recommend it
If you ask your dentist whether using lemon juice to whiten your teeth is a good idea, the chances are that they’ll tell you not to do it – and this isn’t just because they want you to use treatments they sell you so they can make more money from you!
Dentists will tell you to follow dental health best practices, which involves brushing, flossing and visiting a hygienist regularly. However, if you still decide to give lemon juice or peel a go, don’t overdo it, or you might end up permanently removing the enamel from your teeth.