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Lemons in the Limelight

A Lemon a Day Keeps the Beautician, Doctor, & Weight-Reducing Programs Away

I want you to stop reading this right now.

Good. Now...think. Think of the last time that you got a compliment. I'm not talking about something you were wearing, like "Rachel, that necklace is just to-die-for!" I'm talking about you. When was the last time that someone told you that your skin glowed or your arms were fabulous or you just looked all-around amazing? Yeah, it's been awhile for me too.

When I realized that I was tired of my handbags getting more compliments than I did, I conducted a little research. There must be some secret for a busy, middle-aged mother of four to looking compliment-worthy. Well-cue hallelujah chorus-I found it.

Lemons. While serious props go to the entire list of citrus fruits, lemons squeeze effortlessly to the top. They have vitamin C, antioxidants, potassium, and weight-loss properties. And, when put on your skin, not only do lemons make it glow, they contain anti-aging abilities and zit-reducing powers. Their mere scent is enough to leave you invigorated and rejuvenated.

Because back-to-school season is all about multi-tasking, there is no better time to implement lemons into your life. They allow for beauty tricks that are inexpensive, easy, and all-natural. So this fall, instead of turning lemons into lemonade, try turning them into body scrubs, face washes, or breath-fresheners.

For Your Body

There's only one thing better for your skin than sugar scrub: sugar scrub made with lemons. In your bathroom, mix one cup sugar, one-half cup olive oil, and one tablespoon grated lemon zest and mix well. In the shower, wet your body and turn off the shower. Place some of the mixture in your palms and massage in a circular motion all over legs, arms, belly, butt and chest (make sure someone else does your back). Don't do this while the shower's running or you'll wash off the mixture before you get the full effect. Rinse off in the shower.

For those spots that need even more TLC, rub a lemon half on the troublesome dark places of your body like the elbows and the kneecaps. After a few applications, these dark corners will see the light of the day. This lightening effect also works for those times when you accidentally overdo it on the fake tan.

For Your Face

Add the juice of one lemon to one-fourth cup milk and apply to your face. Clean it after half an hour and after a few days, you will feel and see the difference. Unless you have a strange objection to glowing, radiant skin, this face wash is an absolute necessity.

For Your Immune System

The juice of one lemon, two teaspoons of sugar, and a pinch of salt and black pepper will not only make an excellent glass of lemonade; it also happens to be the recipe to fend off upper respiratory infections like the common cold and the flu. It will clean and repair your body from the inside. And don't forget to make a glass for your child if you are tired of him or her catching cold every month.

Comments about this article:

Dear Rebekah,

I really enjoyed reading your article. I am a dental Hygiene student, and I wanted to bring something to your attention that was written in your article entitled Lemons in the Lime Light. There was a paragraph in which you spoke about lemons being a great way to whiten your teeth, and how they help heal your gum tissue. This may be true to an extent; however, let me explain why it is true. You may not think it is such a good idea after you read this. Lemons are actually very bad for the health of your teeth.

The demineralization of your teeths enamel starts at the pH level of 4.5-5.5. The pH level of a lemon is 2.3, which is very acidic This means that over time (and not that long if you are doing this a couple of times a day) the lemons will eat through the enamel. Why lemons make your teeth appear whiter is that they are destroying the enamel crystals so more light is being reflected instead of being absorbed. After a while though, it will eat through all of your teeths enamel (destroying all the enamel crystals) so they will again appear yellow. This is due to the next layer of the tooth being slightly more yellow in color. The next layer of your teeth that can be dissolved or destroyed has a much more basic deminearalization level, it is 6.0-6.7 on the pH scale. If a lemon's pH is 2.3 how long do you think it will take for it to eat through that layer?

Over time an individual will need a lot of dental work done if they follow your advice and use lemons as a tooth whitening agent. Tooth extractions, crowns, bridges or many many fillings will need to be done in order to save the teeth that have been stripped of their enamel.

Thank you so much for your time. I hope you find what I have said enlightening.

Sincerely,

Brette Martinez
Dental Hygiene Student at Utah College of Dental Hygiene.

Hello-

I recently read an article in your Healthy Utah magazine titled "Lemons in the Limelight." As a dental hygiene student, I feel the need to clarify some issues I found during my reading.

Lemon juice is an acid and will do more harm than good to teeth. Because of its low pH, it can quickly cause cavities and irreparable damage tooth enamel. The reason that lemon juice "works" for tooth whitening is that it causes the teeth to lose calcium (which gives teeth some of their off-white color). Calcium is a major part of healthy teeth, and once it is lost, teeth become very susceptible to decay. If a patient asked me about this, I would have highly discouraged using lemon juice for whitening.

Yes, perhaps lemons can be used to help with bad breath. By stimulating saliva with juicy fruit, bad breath can be lessened. I usually recommend sugarless gum for this purpose, however, because sugarless gum does not promote cavities. Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth can also be warning signs of gum disease. Gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque and bacteria on teeth. The bacteria cause toxins to form in the mouth, which irritate the gums. If periodontal disease continues untreated, it can damage the gums and jawbone.

Lastly, a vitamin C deficiency does not directly cause bleeding gums. People with vitamin C deficiency may be more prone to gum diseases, and bleeding gums are a sign that you should see your dentist so that the diseased gums and infection can get cleaned out. All the brushing, flossing, and swishing in the world will not get underneath the gums and into any deep diseased pockets.

Thank you for taking time to read my email,

-Ashley Stokes, a concerned student at the Utah College of Dental Hygiene

Dear Rebekah McClure,

After reading your article "Lemons in the Limelight" I felt it necessary to respond. Currently, I am a dental hygiene student and, as such, we continuously learn about how to maintain a healthy mouth. While I am sure lemons offer a variety vitamins and minerals that benefit our bodies as a whole, it is quite the opposite case for our teeth. Lemons, in fact, erode away the enamel of our teeth. This is considered a huge problem because each adult only has so much enamel and once tooth structure is lost it is gone for good! Lemon juice has a pH of about 2 which makes it extremely acidic (in comparison battery acid has a pH of about 1). Our enamel can be eroded away when exposed to acidic substances that have a pH of less than 5.5, like lemon juice for example. Placing lemon juice on your teeth before bed is even worse than when awake too. This is due to the fact that while we sleep we produce less saliva, which acts as a buffer for our teeth. Saliva protects them from harmful bacteria and other agents, however, while asleep and producing less saliva it allows things like lemon juice to cause even more damage. This means that lemon juice is not whitening your teeth but in fact ruining them! They might temporarily look white while the enamel is being striped away but in the end they will only turn out to be more yellow and destroyed! Therefore, if individuals are worried about esthetics then they should stay clear from your lemon juice concoction and stick to what health professionals in the field of dentistry suggest. I'm sure you were just trying to provide your readers with exciting new "secrets" to looking and feeling good. My only request is that for future articles you make sure to check with health professionals that your advice, if followed, will not bring harm to individuals who listen. I'm sure by taking a little more time to figure out the facts and suggest them to your readers then your readers will look to you as a true source of knowledge and appreciate the extra time spend on their behalf.

Thank you for your time,

Karolyn Kessler, Utah College of Dental Hygiene

Dear Rebekah,

My name is Kayli and I'm a student at the Utah College of Dental Hygiene. I was reading your article entitled “Lemons in the Limelight” and was a little concerned about the topic of using lemons for your mouth. I would like to respectfully address these concerns with you, not only for the protection of those readers of this article, but also for your own oral health care.

When it comes to teeth whitening, lemons are definitely not a good option. Lemons will whiten your teeth, but the reason why is because of their acidity. Lemons have a pH of about 2.2-2.3. Teeth have an outer covering called enamel and inside the enamel is called dentin. When tooth whitening occurs, some of the enamel is taken away due to the acidity of the product being used to bleach. Enamel will demineralize or breakdown when exposed to anything with a pH of 5.5 or less. Dentin begins to demineralize at anything less than a pH of 6.7. When demineralization occurs, this causes the tooth to breakdown and develop decay as the bacteria in the mouth eats away at the demineralized area. Once the enamel is gone and the demineralization goes into the dentin, the enamel cannot be rebuilt. This is when a filling is needed to fix the tooth or else the cavity will continue to spread and the tooth will be lost. As dental professionals, our goal is to help patients keep as much natural tooth structure as possible. Using lemons on your teeth will cause the teeth to breakdown very quickly and that is a very large concern for the patient involved. As I mentioned earlier, lemons have a pH of 2.2-2.3 and even the take home bleach kits that are prescribed by dentists have a much higher pH of about 5.66 to 7.35. If that is the recommended pH at which to whiten your teeth, which is even much more acidic than what you can buy over the counter, you can only imagine what that lemon juice is doing to your teeth.

Now onto the subject of the gums. In your article, it states that lemons will help with bleeding gums. In order to fix bleeding gums, we must understand why they bleed. Gums do not bleed because of a vitamin deficiency. Gums bleed because they are diseased. As bacteria get into our gums, our body recognizes that there is a foreign organism shouldn't be there. In response, our body will depend on our immune response to try to fight this bacteria. As our immune response kicks on, our inflammation process goes into effect, blood is sent to the area and in return, our gums bleed. So therefore, the only thing that will cure bleeding gums, is getting rid of the bacteria that are affecting our gums.

Working in the field of dentistry, I know that the expense of seeing a dentist can seem overwhelming. I also know that if things are taken care of the correct way by trained professionals who have research, we will be much healthier in the long run. With all the current research appearing about the connection between our mouths and our overall health, it is increasingly important that we take care of our mouths the correct way. As such, we must be cautious about using “home remedies” that don't have any research behind them. I don't want to be disrespectful, but I feel these topics are very important and need to be discussed. I hope this will help you and all the readers of this article to develop appropriate oral health habits.

Thank you so much for your time, Kayli Jensen Utah College of Dental Hygiene

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Article Reviewed: July 25, 2012
Copyright © 2014 Healthy Magazine

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