Is Lemon bad for teeth - Myth Buster

Lemons have a long history of being used for their health benefits. From fighting off scurvy in the middle ages to whitening teeth today. Does the science back up the legend behind this cheerful little fruit? We investigate the science behind three of the most popular myths around the health benefits of lemons!


Myth: Is lemon antibacterial?


Lemons have been used for centuries as a natural cleaning and/or cleansing product. There is a reason that you can find lemon in so many cleaning products. A potent antioxidant with antibacterial properties, studies and research have concluded that lemon extract is a definite must in natural cleaning. 

A 2019 study examined the effects of lemon extract over the course of six weeks. Whilst the research was primarily focused on the whitening effects of lemon on the teeth  (see below!) it was also discovered that the test subjects showed improved oral health and a reduction of the bacteria that, in particular, cause gingivitis.  

Myth: Lemon whitens teeth


This is true. There are a few methods for this:

  1. Rub the flesh of the lemon directly onto your teeth
  2. Use the lemon peel and apply to the teeth
  3. Mix equal parts lemon juice and water and use to swish this around the mouth for 2 minutes.

Whilst the whitening effects of lemon on the teeth have been researched and the results conclusive, we don’t recommend applying it in its pure form to teeth and gums.

Anyone old enough to remember the early 90s will remember that teenagers everywhere went mad and started putting lemon juice on their hair to bleach it. You may have even been one of them. If so, you’ll remember that, yes, it did indeed bleach the hair to a lighter colour, but it would need to be followed up by a fairly intense conditioning treatment afterwards.


Myth: Lemon is bad for your teeth and gums

FALSE! But also True. 

In fact it is an acid, specifically, which is bad for your teeth. Logic might then dictate that Lemon peel, juice or flesh applied to the teeth and gums is inherently bad and will have adverse effects on the enamel over time.  

The thing to bear in mind here is ‘everything in moderation and balance’. 

Many people will drink lemon water for health purposes. Whilst this has its benefits, the acid can attack the tooth enamel. So lemon by itself isn’t a great idea for your teeth. At least, not on a regular basis.

This is why, when choosing a natural toothpaste, it’s important to make sure that you have one that balances the pH for the whole mouth. Therefore lemon essential oil, for example, will still have all the benefits of whitening and fighting bacteria if it’s used with, say, an alkaline mineral clay base. 

The pH balance of your mouth is actually more important than many people realise. A healthy adult should have a saliva PH level of 6.7 to 7.4. If this drops below 5.5, then there is a serious risk to the tooth enamel. Unfortunately, any damage there is permanent as it can’t replenish itself. 

In summary, lemon can be good for teeth and gums as long as your toothpaste has a brilliantly balanced pH. And the great news is, we’ve done all the hard work! We’ve carefully formulated Truthpaste to help maintain good oral pH, keeping your whole mouth healthy whilst helping to brighten your smile. 


Malini Murali, et al. (2018) Effect-teeth-whitening-produced-various-natural-food-substances-vitro-study. International Journal of Current Research 10(10): 74405-74407

Sudhir Savarkar et al. (2019) Efficacy Study of whitening Toothpaste containing Lemon (Citrus Limon (L) and Salt (Sodium Carbonate), Dabur Research and Development, International Business Division, United Arab Emirates, Dubai

Verlekar P and Chandak N: Antibacterial and antibiotic-potentiation activities of lemon against drug resistant phenhotypes. Int J Pharm Sci & Res 2018; 9(10): 4373-81. 

Rinki Hans et al, Effect of Various Sugary Beverages on Salivary pH, Flow Rate, and Oral Clearance Rate amongst Adults, Volume 2016 |Article ID 5027283

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