Lemon for teeth whitening? Really? If you've heard about using lemon juice to whiten teeth, you're probably wondering if it's fact or just another myth.
No doubt, having white teeth is one of the best ways to feel more attractive and self-confident, and there's no better way to get white teeth than paying a visit to the dentist or using teeth whitening products because they’re fast and effective.
One trend in natural teeth whitening involves applying lemon juice or lemon peel to your teeth. It seems pretty far fetched, but can natural teeth whitening really be that simple?
Here we'll answer all of your lemon teeth whitening questions, including:
- Is lemon teeth whitening safe?
- Is it effective?
- Should you do it?
Let's get started!
Table of contents
What is lemon teeth whitening?
Teeth whitening involves bleaching your teeth with peroxides or PAP to make them lighter. Lemon teeth whitening is simply the use of lemon juice or peels to whiten your teeth.
You're probably more familiar with traditional teeth whitening, which uses ingredients like peroxides to whiten your teeth, and using lemons isn't that different conceptually.
Lemons contain citric acid, which is known as a natural bleaching agent on fabrics, and even on hair and skin. Citric acid, when applied to teeth, can lift stains and lighten teeth. However, just because it works as a bleaching agent doesn't mean it's the best solution for your teeth.
Are lemons bad for your teeth?
Lemon is a natural product, but that doesn't mean it's safe for your teeth. Lemon is highly acidic with a low pH of 2.3, and acidic food and drink can cause enamel erosion over time. In short, it may whiten your teeth, but you risk wearing down the enamel that protects your teeth.
In fact, a 2015 study showed that lemon juice specifically led to tooth erosion of the enamel and inner dentin.
So, if you use lemon as a teeth whitener too much or too frequently, it can wear down the outer layer of your enamel, increasing the possibility of tooth sensitivity and decay.
It's no surprise that dentists advise against using lemon for stain removal or teeth whitening. If you're really interested in trying it out, don't do it more than twice a week, and consider talking to your dentist first.
Another study showed that herbal teeth whitening solutions can lighten tooth enamel with fewer changes to the surface enamel than conventional whitening kinds of toothpaste. This study found that natural teeth whitening solutions such as lemon juice offered milder yet still effective ways to lighten teeth without the detrimental effects that peroxides can have on teeth enamel.
So although natural solutions such as citric acid might lead to enamel erosion, it's potentially safer to use than frequent chemical whitening solutions that contain hydrogen peroxide.
How to use lemon peel for teeth whitening
If you've taken the leap and try lemon whitening, here's how you can use the lemon peel:
- Peel a lemon carefully. Cut the peel into smaller pieces that can fit inside your mouth.
- Gently rub the outside of the lemon peel on your teeth. Take care to only touch the teeth and not the gums.
- You may notice subtle results right away.
How to use lemon juice for teeth whitening
Lemon peel works well, but lemon juice also whitens teeth. The process is fairly straightforward. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a cup. Dilute the lemon juice with an equal amount of water. Rinse your mouth with the lemon juice solution.
The following video shows how you can try lemon toothpaste, which is a homemade mixture of lemon, toothpaste, and salt to whiten teeth:
Does lemon teeth whitening really work?
It does, but it could take a while to see results. Don’t expect to get the same results that you see when you get professional whitening, teeth whitening kits or even whitening strips. If you want to see noticeable results in a short amount of time, you should use lemon consistently, which isn't good for your teeth.
For people who wear dentures, lemon could be a good at-home treatment for recent stains. It's not recommended for bonded teeth.
Natural teeth whitening alternatives
If you're looking for a natural alternative to professional teeth whitening or at-home kits, there are better solutions than using enamel-eroding lemon juice. Baking soda, for example, is a known whitening agent that also helps remove plaque.
You can create a simple paste of baking soda and water (2 parts water to 1 part baking soda), which can help get rid of some of those extrinsic (external) stains. It won't work as well on intrinsic staining, which affects the inside of the teeth.
An even more effective solution is using a natural toothpaste or a toothpaste that has a mixture of baking soda and peroxide, which is even better for teeth whitening.
Other natural alternatives include oil pulling (using coconut oil) or using activated charcoal. There's even a TikTok trend using banana peels – but don't hold out hope for that one.
Note that activated charcoal can be abrasive on your teeth and there has been little scientific research on its effectiveness. However, charcoal has been used since ancient times for water purification, wound healing, and more.
In a nutshell, lemon is a cheap and natural teeth whitening remedy, but it can do more harm than good if you use it too frequently. If you insist on trying this trend, don't use lemon more than twice a week, avoid prolonged contact with your gums, and consider talking to your dentist before getting started.
If you want to whiten your teeth, there are much more effective solutions including whitening your teeth professionally at the dentists or with other whitening products such as whitening kits.
PubMed. Influence of Various Acidic Beverages on Tooth Erosion. Evaluation by a New Method. Consulted 18th April 2022.
NCBI. A review on natural teeth whitening. Consulted 18th April 2022.
NCBI. Comparison between the effect of commercially available chemical teeth whitening paste and teeth whitening paste containing ingredients of herbal origin on human enamel. Consulted 18th April 2022.