Does Lemon Juice Work for Teeth Whitening?

Fact Checked

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You've doubtless heard the saying,"Don't try this at home" -- but sometimes ideas thought up at home are similarly best avoided. A few years ago, lemon and baking soda was proposed as a homemade tooth whitener, and the "tip" made the rounds on various media. Dentists, however, say you might as well wash your mouth out with your favorite soft drink -- the damage would be about the same.

Protect Your Smile

It's pretty intuitive that too much acid-packed citrus would is bad for your teeth, and baking soda is abrasive. The combination -- often used in household cleansers -- might be fine for your bathroom enamel. But it's a recipe for disaster on your teeth, says Boynton Beach, Florida, dentist Michael Barr. In 1996, an in-vitro study found that canned lemon juice eroded tooth enamel and that this destruction grew worse over time. A study published in 2008 in "General Dentistry" exposed teeth to lemon, orange or grapefruit juice, and found that lemon juice was the most corrosive to enamel. If you drink sodas or citrus beverages, drink a glass of water immediately after to protect your teeth.